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When I heard of the death of Mr. Isaac Marsden, I felt 
that the Church of Christ had lost a faithful and devoted 
servant, and I had lost a personal friend. 

I resolved that he should not go down to the grave 
4 unwept, unhonoured, and unsung ;' so I wrote a series 
of papers describing my own impressions of him, sketch- 
ing a few interesting features of his work, and giving a 
few examples of his marvellous success. 

These papers were published in the Watchman and 
the McthuJist Recorder, and were widely read, and received 
with lively satisfaction. The editor of the Christian Mis- 
cellany wrote to ask me to supply him with three papers 
on the same subject ; and old friends of Mr. Marsden 
wrote to me from all parts of the country, asking me 
to supply further information. 

I found it to be the opinion of all his friends that for 
the good of the Church, and for the glory of God, some 

viii PREFACE. 

permanent record oj: his life should be made. I was 
pressed on all sides to write his biography ; and seeing 
in the work such a sphere of usefulness as seldom comes 
in a man's lifetime, I resolved to make the attempt. 

I have found it a more formidable task than I antici- 
pated, owing to the condition in which he left his manu- 
scripts. He could not have expected that his biography- 
would ever be written, or he would surely have left 
some reliable documents. But his lack of service has 
been made up by the generous help of his friends and 
admirers in various parts of the country. 

My warmest thanks are due to the members of his 
own family, his relatives and friends, who have cheerfully 
furnished me with information, and permitted me to 
copy valuable letters and verify important statements. 
My only regret is that so many ministers and laymen 
who have written to me have imposed on me the con- 
ditions of withholding their names, and the names of 
places, as the parties indicated in the narrative are still 

I have tried to make the book a trustworthy record 
of his life and work. Many persons now living can 
vouch for the truth of the statements I have made, extra- 
ordinary and improbable as they may appear. I have 
satisfied myself as to the accuracy of my statements ; 
and if they are ever questioned, I shall be prepared to 
prove them. 


My task will have failed in its aim if the perusal of 
this book does not rouse my readers to a high and holy 
purpose in life. The great need of the world to-day is 
a host of men who will seek the Lord as Isaac Marsden 
sought Him, and then serve Him as he served Him. 


29, Banks Street, Blackpool, 
July, 1882. 
























A century ago the steam giant was unknown among the 
valleys and hill-sides of Yorkshire, and it was only here and 
there that the splash of a watcrwheel could be heard. Occa- 
sionally some shrewd observant man would think it worth 
his while to dam up the mountain torrent and erect a small 
waterwheel, to grind his corn, or save the labour of his horses 
and servants ; but, as a rule, all the labour was performed by 
human hands, and machinery was almost unknown. 

For ages the manufacture of flannels and woollen cloths had 
been conducted in the most primitive fashion. The wool had 
been combed, dyed, spun and woven in the cottages and farm- 
houses of the district. It was literally home-spun. 

A stranger passing through any village in South Yorkshire 
at that time would have heard the click and rattle of hand- 
loom weaving in almost every cottage. Usually a large bed- 
room, and a corresponding room on tho ground floor, formed 
the workshops for the family; and wool in every stage of 
manufacture would be found on tho premises. As soon as a 
child could mount the seat-board, and throw the shuttle, and 



use the treadles, it was taught to weave. The labour was 
heavy for a child of ten or twelve years of age ; and it required 
the greatest care and attention, or the pattern would be spoiled, 
and the work would have to be undone and corrected. Chil- 
dren of tender years often worked early and late in these little 
hives of industry, and earned their own living when they 
ought to have been at school. 

The village of Skelmanthorpe, about midway between 
Huddersfield, TTakefield, and Barnsley, was a typical York- 
shire manufacturing village at that time. Every farmhouse 
and cottage had some kind of rude machinery or contrivance 
for the manufacture of woollen cloth. It was the fashion in 
those days to wear fancy waistcoats of every hue and colour. 
The ' swell ' of the period would appear on Sundays with a vest 
as gay as a peacock's tail, and as gorgeous as a rainbow. The 
poor farm-labourer, who could not afford a fancy cloth waist- 
coat, would have a calf's skin dressed, with the hair cleaned 
and dyed at home, and would rival his rich neighbour in the 
startling colours on Ifiis vest. 

Ladies' fancy dress goods were also very popular about the 
beginning of the present century ; and Skelmanthorpe became 
famous for the quality, texture, and colour of its fancy cloths. 
William Marsden, an4 Ann his wife, lived in a cottage in the 
village, and earned a comfortable living by hand-loom weaving. 
It was an occupation requiring close application, constant care 
and attention, and affording few opportunities for relaxation 
and enjoyment. For some time, during their early married 
life, they were blessed with health and prosperity. During 
one severe winter, however, he worked early and late in the 
damp dull loom-house, among fogs and chills which brought 
on a severe attack of rheumatic fever. For weeks his life 
was in danger ; and when he was able once more to enjoy the 
sunshine and breathe the pure air, he became painfully con- 
scious that his career as a hand-loom weaver must come to an 
end. The dull damp confinement of the loom-house rendered 
him liable to successive attacks of rheumatism, and a change of 
employment became absolutely necessary. 

He had a small family growing up, and though he had a 


stirring, active wife, who made the most of her opportunities, 
it soon became clear that he must do something to keep the 
wolf from the door. It occurred to him that if he could buy 
wool direct from the farmer, and employ others to manufacture 
it under his supervision and care, and sell the cloth to the 
tailors and woollendrapers himself, he might earn a comfort- 
able living without exposing himself to his old enemy the 
rheumatic fever. 

He talked the matter over with his wife ; and as they were 
both well acquainted with all the processes of manufacture 
known at the time, they thought they could do all the work 
themselves for some little time. His long illness had seriously 
reduced their little stock of money ; and when he had obtained 
the primitive machinery that was absolutely necessary for the 
work, he had only enough left to purchase a stone of wool. It 
was a small beginning, but it was as much as he could afford 
to pay for. He hated debt, and nobody would give him long 
credit ; so he took no more than his scanty pence would buy. 
The stone of wool was combed, dyed, spun, and woven, mainly 
by his own hands, and the cloth was sold at a fair profit. By 
rigid self-denial and unceasing toil this process was repeated 
again and again, till William Marsden took his place among 
the small manufacturers of the district. He was a pushing, 
upright, honest man, and in the course of a few years gained 
the confidence of his customers, and the esteem of his neigh- 

During these early struggles for existence, Isaac Marsden 
was born at Skelmanthorpe, on June 3rd, 1807. He was 
the third child of "William and Ann Marsden. Their first- 
born was a daughter, who lived to a ripe old age. The second 
was a boy, who died in infancy ; so that the hero of our story 
was the eldest surviving son. There were ten children born 
into the family, of whom six survived. 

The home was a scene of ceaseless activity ; for it required 
all the talents and energies of the parents to keep out of debt 
and make their way in the world. They worked early and 
late, and often the father would return late at night or early 
in the morning from the market where he had sold his cloth 


and bought his wool. There were few luxuries to be had ; for 
the family might be thankful if they could secure abundance 
of plain wholesome food, and be clothed in simple home-spun 

In childhood Isaac was fond of home' life. He would sit 
for hours at his mother's feet, playing with a shuttle, or a 
bobbin, or a simple toy, and seemed to have no desire for the 
company of other children about his own age. 

As he grew older, he was sent to school for such education 
as the rural schools of that period could afford. His mornings 
and evenings were occupied with any little task that he could 
perform, or he was sent on errands to relieve his father's more 
pressing duties. At school he learned to read, and soon 
acquired a passion for reading that could not easily be satisfied. 
He would neglect the most important duties at home, and incur 
his father's wrath and displeasure, to gratify his love of read- 
ing. If he could obtain a newspaper or a book, he became 
unconscious of the flight of time, and oblivious of everything 
around him, till his father brought him to his senses by a 
liberal application of the birch-rod or the horse-whip. This 
over-mastering passion seemed to retard his studies in other 
subjects. He learned to write after a fashion, so that he could 
make out and read his own writing ; but those who did not 
understand his peculiarities would be puzzled to decipher his 
meaning. His spelling was bad, and many a severe flogging 
did he receive for his careless and incoherent epistles. He 
made fair progress in arithmetic, as it was important he should 
be able to keep accounts and make calculations for business 
purposes. But beyond this he did not proceed far with his 
studies at school. He knew nothing of grammar, geography, 
or history, and his only chance of increasing his stock of infor- 
mation was his passion for reading. 

At considerable personal inconvenience and self-denial his 
father kept him at school, hoping that he would receive such 
an education as would repay him in after years. But as his 
progress was so unsatisfactory, and the companionships and 
friendships he formed so undesirable, he was taken from school 
at twelve or thirteen years of age, and was sent by his father 


into the loom-house to learn the art of weaving. He had been 
familiar from childhood with the hand-looms, and his father 
thought he would soon become a competent and trustworthy 
weaver. But he was doomed to disappointment. 

Isaac would take his place on the seat-board, and press down 
the treadles with his feet, and make a shed, and send the 
shuttle through. He would throw the slay-board backward 
and forward, and sing and whistle like a lark. But alas for 
the web that he produced ! It would be as stiff as a board, and 
as unlike the pattern as a careless boy could make it. The 
broad stripes were narrow, and the narrow stripes were broad. 
He would take the colours in the wrong order, and mix them 
so hopelessly that the oldest weaver in the village could not 
undo the mischief. The stripes that ought to have been 
regular and even, were broken and varied, till the cloth was 
utterly ruined and wasted. It was not that he was a lazy boy, 
but the loom was too strait and confining for him. He had 
not patience to count every pick of the shuttle with the regu- 
larity of clockwork, and he made mistakes so often that it 
became impossible to unpick and mend his spoiled work. For 
his irregular stripes his father gave him a severe flogging ; but 
no amount of punishment could ever make him a weaver, and 
he soon left the loom in disgrace. 

That he might know when cloth was properly dressed, he 
was taught the art of ' cropping.' The old method of cropping 
by hand has been completely revolutionised by modern 
machinery. He managed the old-fashioned cropping tolerably 
well, but it was the only part of the manufacture of cloth in 
which he showed any proficiency. He continued at this em- 
ployment till he was sixteen or seventeen years of age. 

During his school life and early working years his habits 
completely changed. Home lost all its charms, and he formed 
companionships that seriously affected his character. 

In his childhood he had been the subject of deep religious 
impressions. There was no church in the village The AYes- 
leyan Methodists and the Primitives had small chapels there, 
but these were so far away from his home that the family 
seldom attended any place of worship. His mother had 


always had a reverence for God's house, and a desire for His 
service ; and it was a great grief to her that the claims of her 
children, and the distance of her home from any sanctuary, 
deprived her of the means of grace. She gathered a few friends 
and neighbours to her house for religious worship, and a class- 
meeting was formed that met regularly in her kitchen. 

About this time a gracious revival of religion was experienced 
in the neighbourhood. The Primitives and "YVesleyans pro- 
voked each other to holy rivalry and activity. Camp meetings, 
preaching services, cottage prayer-meetings, and house-to-house 
visitations were followed by such an outpouring of the Spirit 
as Skelmanthorpe had never seen. Ann Marsden was wonder- 
fully blessed during these services, and became a woman of 
great power with God. 

At some of these services Isaac was powerfully affected. 
Among children of his own age, who were similarly influ- 
enced by the Spirit of God, he used to reproduce the services, 
and preach in his own way the terrors of the law. He showed 
what was in him at that early age by thundering hell and 
damnation in their ears, and frightening some of them by his 
terrible sermons. If he had made a confidant of his mother 
and told her his desires after God at that time, it is highly 
probable he would have been converted and saved from years 
of sin and sorrow. 

But these influences soon passed away. His father had no 
love for religion, and regarded Isaac's attendance at the week- 
night service with as much aversion as his inordinate love of 
reading. In any case, if his duties were neglected, it mattered 
not whether he had been reading trash or saying his prayers, 
he was sure to have a round with the horse-whip when his 
father had time to attend to him. This stern and rigorous 
discipline did him no good. It simply aggravated the mischief 
it was intended to cure. 

Isaac had now reached the most critical period of his youth. 
He was sixteen years of age, healthy and strong, full of frolic 
and mischief, high-spirited and reckless. He was tossed 
hither and thither on a stormy sea of passion at the mercy of 
wind and waves. 


The village green during the feast week at Skelmanthorpe 
was a scene of wild confusion. The public-houses were 
crowded with drunken revellers, who caroused all day, and 
made night hideous with their quarrels and disturbances. 
A stout stake was fixed in the middle of the green for bull- 
baiting and bear-baiting. Here some unhappy bear was 
chained, with only liberty to move round the pole, and sit on 
his hind-legs. Savage bull-dogs were incited to attack him, 
and as they pinned him by the nose, and made him yell with 
pain, the excited crowd screamed with delight. If the bear 
caught the dog in his paws and crushed the life out of it, he 
became the hero of the hour, and was removed from the stake 
for a brief respite by his tormentors. Then a fine powerful 
bull would be chained to the stake by the nose, with only 
sufficient length of chain to enable him to defend himself. 
The dogs were set upon him, and if he was a tame, spiritless 
creature, who allowed himself to be torn and worried, the 
spectators gloated over his sufferings, and thought it served 
him right. But if he became furious, and tossed the do^s like 
shuttlecocks with his horns, and broke away from the stake 
to wreak his vengeance on the crowd around him, they were 
wild with admiration, and said he deserved a better fate 
Occasionally a ring was formed, and two savage bull-dogs 
were incited to attack each other. They would fight with 
blind fury till one of them Avas worried, when the crowd would 
adjourn to the public-house to settle their betting accounts, 
and devise new forms of amusement. Often two powerful 
young men would strip and enter the ring for a brutal prize- 
fight or a match of wrestling. There were no policemen in 
those days, and the constables, who ought to have put down 
such disgraceful proceedings, contrived to be out of the way 
when they were wanted. 

Among these scenes of revelry would be mountebanks, and 
showmen, and fortune-telling Gipsies, and vagabonds, and 
thieves, from every quarter. The din, and uproar, and strife 
lasted night and day. Work was entirely suspended for a 
week, and often the savings of a whole year would be spent 
in folly and sin. 


To the everlasting credit of the Methodists it must be said 
that they did not allow these scenes of riot to be perpetrated 
in their presence without protest. They assembled in the 
streets, and went through the village singing hymns, praying, 
and warning sinners of their guilt and danger. They con- 
ducted special services in their chapels, and did their utmost 
to gain the ears and hearts of the giddy multitude. Sometimes 
they suffered persecution for their zeal, and often the preacher's 
voice would be drowned by the clanging of cymbals and the 
beating of drums. But they were content if they could satisfy 
themselves that the devil did not get all his own way. 

This wild, stirring scene on the village green at the feast 
was but a faint type of the conflicting passions and motives in 
Isaac's soul at that time. His gay companions were sorely in 
need of a leader. His reckless, headstrong passions, and open, 
generous nature, fitted him for such a position. He could 
coerce the strong and beguile the weak. He seemed to them 
a born leader, and if he had only ambition enough, he might 
be their king. His father's stern, rigorous discipline went too 
far, or not far enough. It was not discriminating and wise. 
So lo»g as he did his duty faithfully, and performed his allotted 
task, no questions were asked. He might keep late hours or 
bad company, or read bad books, but, if he attended strictly 
to business, his father would be satisfied. The least departure 
from the father's iron rule, or the slightest neglect of duty, 
brought him under the lash, and he would smart for many a 

His mother ardently longed for his conversion. In her own 
heart and life the power of the Gospel was felt and seen. He 
could never look steadily into her mild blue eyes without a 
twinge of conscience or a pang of remorse. He knew he was 
not what he ought to be. Her life was his highest ideal of life. 
To be as pure and good as his mother would be the height 
of ambition. 

So that in these conflicting elements — companions, father, 
and mother — he had sin, law, and Gospel in competition for 
his heart. He was swayed like the leaves of a forest tree by 
every wind that blew. He was starting on the voyage of life ; 


and if Christ took the helm, he would be saved. If the devil 
took the helm, he would be ruined. 

In after life he often regretted that no good- Christian took 
him in hand at that time and led him to Christ. It was a 
golden opportunity, but nobody saw it ; so he was left to the 
whirlwind of passion, and everybody but his mother abandoned 
him to the way of transgressors. 



William Marsden's business continued to prosper. He paid 
his accounts punctually. He gave his customers the full value 
for their money. He treated his workpeople fairly and kindly. 
He was a living exposition of the truth : ' The hand of the 
diligent maketh rich.' 

As the produce from his looms increased, it became necessary 
to find new markets. He opened accounts with wholesale 
houses in Lincolnshire, and it became necessary to attend the 
principal fairs and markets in that neighbourhood. There 
were no railways, and the carriers' carts were not always to 
be trusted to deliver his goods as promptly and speedily as he 
desired. So he purchased a valuable horse and light cart, that 
he might serve his customers personally. 

He hired a room in the yard of the ' Wellington Inn ' at 
Doncaster, as a warehouse and depot for his Lincolnshire 
customers. He engaged a bedroom for his own separate use 
when travelling in the neighbourhood. Thus he had virtually 
two homes — a permanent one at Skelmanthorpe, and a tem- 
porary one at Doncaster. 

In these long journeys he took Isaac as his assistant. The 
lad took kindly to his new employment, and showed signs of 
becoming a good salesman. He booked orders, and kept 
accounts, and measured cloth, and made up parcels so cheerfully, 
that his father decided to remove him from the workshop and 
take him regularly to market. Isaac's new employment was 
exactly to his taste, and he did his best to please his father 
in every respect. 

Before he was seventeen years of age, he had so far gained 


his father's confidence that he was trusted on some of these 
journeys alone, and placed in charge of the warehouse at 
Doncaster occasionally. This arrangement was doubtless very 
convenient for business purposes, but it was a source of danger 
to Isaac's character. His time was divided between Skelman- 
thorpe and Doncaster. When he was at one place, his father 
was at the other ; and as his father never troubled him so long 
as he attended to his business, he had many opportunities of 
getting into mischief. A strong, healthy, well-fed youth, with 
strong passions, fierce temptations, plenty of pocket-money, 
and no parental restraint, he soon began sowing wild oats. His 
duties required him to attend certain well-known public-houses, 
in order to meet his father's customers. Thus he soon learned 
to drink, and to mix with the idle, dissolute characters who 
haunted the kitchen and tap-room. He was free and open- 
handed with his pocket-money, and often treated every drunkard 
in the room. So that he soon became exceedingly popular 
among the ignorant and degraded. 

He had an innate love for practical joking. He would play 
his prank regardless of consequences ; and if he got into trouble 
with his Doncaster friends, he would stay at Skelmanthorpe 
till the storm had blown over. But he would soon get into 
disgrace there, and find it necessary to seek safer quarters. 

One of his companions was a youth named Jack Senior, and 
his name figures in many a wild prank. These two worthies 
went into the kitchen of the ' Wellington ' one night, and 
fomented some dispute, and set the men quarrelling and fight- 
ing. They upset the long table, hurled pots and pipes and 
glasses to the floor, and thrust the uplifted end of the table 
through the ceiling. Then they overturned the long settle, 
and sent the quarrelsome drunkards sprawling on the sanded 
floor. The landlady, hearing the uproar, ran to the rescue of 
her pots and glasses ; and when order had been restored, she 
declared it was ' one of Isaac Marsden's tricks.' But Isaac 
and Jack knew they had made the kitchen of the ' Wellington ' 
too hot for them for some time ; so they kept out of the way 
till the incident was almost forgotten. The next time they 
appeared on the scene, they made peace by treating all round. 


There was a good deal of method in their mischief. A cross- 
grained, cynical old 'man in Skelmanthorpe used to say that 
' Ike Marsden and Jack Senior were born to be hanged, and 
would surely come to the gallows some of these days.' They 
were bad enough, no doubt, but unfortunately his rasping, 
snarling denunciations made them no better. As he persistently 
denounced them both in season and out of season, they gave 
him many opportunities of losing his temper. One morning, 
his front door could not be opened, and he had to go out by 
the back door to see what was the matter. A stray donkey 
had been turned into his garden, and tied up so tightly to his 
front door that he had to cut the rope before he could release 
it. The donkey, to show its resentment at such treatment, 
broke away from the old man, and did some serious mischief 
among his choicest plants and flowers. There was not the 
slightest evidence to prove that these two youths had turned 
the donkey into his garden or tied the door, but it was set 
down to their account, and the old man firmly believed they 
were the guilty parties. 

The house stood in its own garden, and was some distance 
from any other house. The old man lived alone and was very 
superstitious. One night he was rudely disturbed in his 
slumbers by some unearthly sounds. Jack and Isaac had a 
large paving-stone each, and were vigorously rubbing them up 
and down the wall of the old man's house. Those who have 
never heard that operation performed on a large stone house at 
the witching hour of night can have no idea of its effect on 
sensitive nerves. The old man thought his hour had come. 
His hair almost stood on end with fright, and the cold perspira- 
tion stood in bead-drops on his brow. He covered his face 
with the bed-clothes, prayed loudly for mercy, and promised to 
be a better man if the good Lord would only spare him this 
time. Next day he told his neighbours some remarkable 
stories about the supernatural noises he had heard, but for once 
he failed to blame the real offenders. 

It is but fair to say that his father knew little of these wild 
adventures. Isaac's attention to his father's business was out- 
wardly satisfactory. He would make any sacrifices or undergo 


any hardships to keep a business appointment. He had been 
repaying somebody at Doncaster a real or fancied wrong, and 
had narrowly escaped getting into serious trouble in conse- 
quence. The whole day had been spent with his companions 
in folly and sin, and as night came on he remembered that he 
had promised to be at Huddersfield market next morning with 
a particular piece of cloth. His father would drive over from 
Skelmanthorpe to meet him, and he knew there would be a 
sound horsewhipping in store for him if he failed to appear at 
the appointed time. He wrapped up the piece of cloth in a 
convenient parcel, put it on his shoulder, and started to walk 
to Huddersfield. All through that long dark night he walked, 
and very early in the morning he caught the coach at Shelley, 
a few miles from Huddersfield, and rode into the town. A 
brush, and a wash, and a breakfast followed ; and when 
business began, he was as active and lively as if he had spent 
the whole night in peaceful slumber. 

This lack of parental restraint explains many of the wild 
excesses of Isaac's youth. He was so full of animal vigour 
and strength that his powers of endurance were practically 
unlimited. He could spend night after night in folly and sin, 
and yet be strong and active enough to discharge his daily 
duties to his father's satisfaction. 

His mother often spoke to him about his wild reckless life, 
but her words seemed to him as an idle tale. Once he went 
with his companions to bathe in the river Don. They dared 
each other to attempt the most reckless and foolhardy feats. 
Isaac, as usual, was first and foremost in these deeds of daring, 
till he was caught by the current and swept away. He sank 
like a stone in a bend of the river where the water ran like a 
mill-race. Fortunately help was at hand, and after a most 
exciting search he was found and brought to the surface by his 
friends. They laid him on the grass and pronounced life to 
be extinct, but some sanguine neighbour resolved to try the 
usual means of restoration. After long and persistent efforts, 
he began to breathe naturally ; but he was many days before 
he recovered from the effects of his immersion. 

This adventure was used by his mother as a powerful argu- 


ment in favour of the claims of religion. She pointed out his 
guilt and danger, and affectionately urged him to make his 
peace with God. He listened with respect, and for a few days 
remembered her words ; but he soon went back to his old com- 
panions and habits, and became as wild and reckless as ever. 

One night, when driving home in the dark, he had to cross 
the canal by a swing-bridge. He felt sure he could find the 
bridge and drive over safely, but the horse suddenly stopped 
and refused to go another step. He dismounted and groped 
about, but, failing to find the bridge, he retraced his steps to 
the nearest house and fetched a light. The bridge had been 
opened to allow a boat to pass through, and had not been 
closed again. Another step, and horse and cart would have 
been plunged into deep water ; but the faithful horse refused 
to move when he found himself on the brink of the canal. 
Isaac replaced the bridge, crossed it in safety, and reached 
home made more sober and serious by his midnight adventure. 

Again his life had been spared, and again his mother warned 
him of his guilt and danger. For a few days he behaved more 
circumspectly, but his goodness, like the early cloud and morn- 
ing dew, soon vanished aAvay. 

Another cause of mischief was the wonderful authority he 
had over his companions. He had a physical superiority by 
reason of his robust health and enormous strength. When he 
was about twenty-one years of age, his strength was prodigious. 
He was tall, muscular, athletic, and full of daring aggressive- 
ness that led him into many a quarrel. One day, as he drove 
up to the * Ked Bear Hotel ' at Thorne, the landlady met him 
at the door, saying : ' Mr. Marsden, what shall I do ? A 
gang of navvies are quarrelling and fighting in the kitchen, 
and breaking and destroying everything.' ' Take care of my 
horse,' said he, 'and I'll soon shift them.' There was not a 
constable to be found, and he was alone among a host of 
frenzied, drunken ruffians ; but he elbowed his way into the 
kitchen, and singled out the ringleader. Seizing him by the 
throat, he shook him as a terrier would shake a rat. Then he 
took his victim to the door, and deliberately threw him across 
the street. Going back into the kitchen, he picked out the 


leading rioters one by one, and disposed of them in the same 
wav, till the house was cleared. 

It may seem strange they did not retaliate and attack him, 
but that was much easier said than done. His arms were so 
long that he could reach and punish any ordinary man, while 
his opponent could not touch him. And he had a habit of 
squeezing his foes so effectually that when they once felt his 
iron grip, they would take care to avoid one of his ponderous 

It is clear therefore that his extraordinary strength and 
unbridled passion gave him great authority over his com- 
panions. He was recognised as king, and allowed to have 
matters his own way. He gained an evil reputation among 
those who were the chief sufferers by his recklessness ; but he 
never bore any malice or ill-will towards them, and they soon 
forgave him. 

But he had an intellectual as well as a physical superiority. 
Most of his companions were men who read little, and were 
unable to discuss and contend with him. He had access to 
the newspapers of the time, and carefully read and remembered 
the great speeches made during the Chartist agitation and the 
political excitement preceding the Reform Bill of 1832. He 
was well acquainted with the questions that stirred the hearts 
of the people during that period, and his sympathies were on 
the popular side. After the business of the day he would go 
to the bar-parlour or kitchen of the inn where he stayed, and, 
with his pipe and glass and boon-companions, talk till mid- 
night of the speeches he had read or the opinions he had 

In those days good books were scarce and dear. The 
Christian Church had not awoke to the value of pure litera- 
ture ; and as Isaac could not read good books, he read bad 
ones. He carefully studied Paine's Age of Reason, Mirabeau's 
System of Nature, and every tract and pamphlet issued from 
the infidel press of that period. He adopted their opinions, 
and used their arguments to excuse, if not to defend, his own 
wickedness. Thus he learned to sneer at virtue, and ridicule 
religion, and hold up good men to s-oorn and derision. Nothing 


pleased his companions better than a pot-house discussion on 
religion or politics, 'especially when he could find a foeman 
worthy of his steel ; but he was so dogmatic and contentious 
that few dared to contradict him. If he failed to find a 
formidable opponent to argue with him, he would vary the 
evening's performance by ridiculing religion and playing prac- 
tical jokes on all who did not endorse his opinions. 

His inveterate love of reading often brought him into con- 
flict with his father. It was not because he read bad books, 
but because he read at the wrong time. Often on his long 
journeys he would hold the reins in one hand and a book in 
the other, as he drove over the rough country roads. The 
horse would stumble, the reins would be slack, and down it 
would come, breaking its knees or the shafts. Even when 
riding on horseback, he would read, till the horse fell and sent 
him flying over its head. It is said that he never, drove a 
horse at that time without breaking its knees. 

These acts of carelessness irritated his father and led to un- 
pleasantness between them. They agreed so long as he attended 
strictly to business, and promoted his father's interests in every 
possible way. They only quarrelled when he was negligent 
and inattentive. 

He became a first-rate salesman, and pushed business to his 
father's satisfaction. At the various fairs and markets of South 
Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire he became well known as a 
shrewd, keen, observant young man, who could drive as good 
a bargain as most men, and who could sell as much cloth as 
his father could manufacture. 

There seemed to be two Isaac Marsdens : one, the pushing, 
energetic, obliging salesman who executed orders, and collected 
accounts, and extended his father's business ; and the other, 
the wild, reckless, daring young libertine whose hand was 
against every man, and who was the ringleader of every madcap 
frolic and wild adventure. 

From seventeen to twenty-seven years of age he led this 
double life. It was his boast that he ' feared neither God nor 
man nor devil.' His days were spent in hard work, and his 
nights in folly and sin. 


In his later years he looked back with sorrow and shame to 
those terrible ten years in which he ' sowed his wild oats.' He 
understood the significance of the Psalmist's prayer: 'Kemember 
not the sins of my youth.' The sins might be forgiven, but 
the mischief could never be undone. The seeds he sowed 
yielded a harvest of shame and sorrow. 




Through all these weary years of sin and folly there was 
ofcly one person in the world who had any influence over him 
for good. He had cast off every other bond that saved him 
from drifting to shipwreck and ruin, but his love for his 
mother. Her love was the sheet-anchor that held him fast. 
Her piety secretly charmed him, and she could touch a chord 
in his heart that was beyond the reach of aH the world beside. 

Every day she prayed, ' Lord, save my Isaac. He is beyond 
the reach of every other arm but Thine.' This was the burden 
of her prayer, morning, noon, and night. With intense ear- 
nestness and unwearied perseverance and mighty faith, she 
prayed when the case seemed most hopeless and desperate. 
She knew she was asking for a miracle of mercy ; for Isaac's 
conversion seemed the most unlikely thing in the world. He 
was the devil's mighty champion and faithful servant, and, 
humanly speaking, as far from salvation as any man in the 
world. His pious relatives and friends had all abandoned him 
to a career of vice and folly, and regarded all efforts to reclaim 
him as absolutely hopeless. But she never gave him up. The 
more wild and lawless and wicked he became, the more per- 
sistently and powerfully did she pray for him. In her agony 
and distress one night she forgot all about the flight of time. 
Her husband was far from home, and the children were in bed, 
and Isaac was away in some scene of folly and sin ; so she 
pleaded with God all night for his conversion. 

About four o'clock in the morning a sudden conviction filled 
her mind that her prayer was answered, and Isaac would be 
saved. She knew not how, nor when;, nor by what means this 


unlikely event would be realised. She eould not reason about 
it satisfactorily, but she felt sure that God would save her 
Isaac. She quoted the lines : 

1 Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees, 

And looks to that alone ; 
Laughs at impossibilities, 

And cries, " It shall be done ! " ' 

Filled with this blessed assurance, she determined to work 
night and day to reclaim him, and watch for the signs of any 
change in his conduct, and pray incessantly, 'Lord, save my 
Isaac' She had need of all her faith and courage and perse- 
verance, for he became worse each week in his conduct. He 
was not only more wild and wayward than ever, but he was 
always inventing new forms of wickedness, and new modes of 
enjoyment for his wicked companions. 

One of his favourite amusements at his tap-room entertain- 
ments was reproducing the speeches he had read, or the 
sermons he had heard, for the delectation of his companions. 
This was a never-ending source of pleasure to them, and helped 
to strengthen his own memory and improve his powers as a 
speaker. If he had been content to reproduce what he had 
heard or read literally, there might not have been much harm 
in the performance ; but he took care to parody sacred things, 
and hold religious subjects up to ridicule and contempt; Amid 
shouts of laughter and rounds of applause, he would imitate 
the peculiarities of the preacher he had heard, and present the 
sermon the most grotesque side out, thus wielding a most per- 
nicious influence over his companions. 

One Sunday in the autumn of 1834, the Eev. Eobert Aitken 
was announced to preach special sermons in the new Wesleyan 
Chapel, Priory 'Place, Doncaster. He resolved to go and hear 
that popular preacher, in order that he might compare him 
with others whom he had heard, and pick as much fun out of 
the service as possible. 

The preacher was a ' son of thunder,' and with ' thoughts that 
breathed and words that burned' he fell upon Isaac and utterly 
routed him. He seemed to be preaching to nobody else ; and 


if he had had the gift of prophecy, he could not have known 
more of Isaac's friental condition, or more fitly met his case. 
The outlines of the sermon were lost in the bold, dashing, fear- 
less onslaught he made on Isaac's conscience. Looking him 
full in the face, he denounced his sins with such directness and 
power that Isaac felt his courage was melting away. Then he 
thundered the terrors of the Lord in his ears, till Isaac began 
to tremble. The Spirit of God accompanied the word, and 
impressed the truth on his conscience so mightily that he could 
not resist. He had never met his match before, but he was 
now decidedly beaten. He could neither argue against what 
he had heard, nor successfully resist the appeals of the preacher. 
He was dumb, and knew not what to say. He had had a new 
experience that day which he could not explain or understand. 
For the last ten years he had been carefully building up a 
refuge of lies that should be his stronghold and defence. But 
the preacher had opened fire upon his stronghold, and with a 
few well-directed shots had reduced it to ruins, and left him 
naked and exposed as a sinner — a sorry spectacle for angels and 
men and devils. What should he do 1 

After the service he remained at the prayer-meeting, and his 
presence there caused no little commotion among his relatives 
and friends. One or two of them spoke to him, but he could 
give no satisfactory account of himself. He could only tell 
them that the preacher had been hitting him very hard, and 
he never had the truth put to him so plainly and powerfully 
before. He felt he was a sinner and needed mercy, but beyond 
that he declined to commit himself. He was persuaded to 
go into the inquiry-room, and kneel among the penitents ; but 
a kind of intellectual paralysis seized him, for he ' thought 
nothing and felt nothing ' beyond the immediate effects of that 
sermon. He was ' sore wounded by the Spirit's sword,' but 
he did not at once begin to seek earnestly for mercy. 

The influence of Mr. Aitken's sermon was abiding. It was 
a nail fastened in a sure place. Go where lie would, and do 
what he would, for the next few weeks, it haunted him every 
moment like a terrible nightmare. He could not get away 
from it, and he could not shake it off, and he could not argue 


against it. Xothing had ever so completely baffled and beaten 
him before, and time only seemed to increase its power over 
him. The more he thought about it, the more he felt that 
the preacher was right and he was in the wrong. 

So many versions of the visit of the Rev. E. Aitken to 
Doncaster have been given, and so many different statements 
have been made by persons who trust only to their memories, 
or to the impressions made on their minds by what they have 
heard, that I think it right to publish the testimony of an 
eye-witness : — 

1 Spring Brook, Ontario, Canada, 
June 27th, 1880. 

' Dear Brother, — I have great pleasure in sending you a reminiscence 
of our late Brother Marsden, which may help you in; giving a correct 
account of the circumstances under which he was converted. 

' At the request of the Rev. R. Aitken I accompanied him from York 
to the Wolds, Scarborough, Hull, Gainsborough, Doncaster, and Sheffield. 

' At Doncaster the Missionary Anniversary sermons were preached by 
Mr. Aitken in the afternoon and evening. He laboured hard for an hour 
trying to impress the congcegation in the afternoon, but, as he told me 
afterwards, "the word seemed to rebound back to his own bosom." At 
last he shook himself and roared like a lion, and said :~" I have long heard 
that Doncaster was the capital of the devil's kingdom, but now I 
believe it." 

* Yet under that sermon Isaac Marsden was awakened from death to 
life. We knew nothing of it at the time ; but I heard Brother Marsden 
in a love-feast at Denby Dale — the head of our native circuit — relate the 
story of his conversion and subsequent five years' experience. I followed 
him, and gave an account of the circumstances as above stated. 

' Mr. Aitken's appeal aroused the members of Society ; yet we had no 
after meeting at the close of the first service, as we usually had, but the 
brethren went home weeping and praying. Special prayer-meetings were 
held in many houses till the time for evening service. Then we had a 
glorious time ; many precioua souls were born again, the late Rev. W. B. 
Thorneloe being one of them. 

' Our dear Brother Marsden was the honoured instrument in the con- 
version of my youngest sister in the chapel of our native village, Caw- 

4 As I have many numbers of the Methodist Recorder sent to me, I saw 
your Reminiscences, and hope this information will be in time to be of 
service to you. —Yours truly in the Lord Jesus Christ, 

' Benjamin Pashley.' 


Very shortly after this remarkable sermon he spent a Sunday 
at Skelmanthorp% ; and as there was to be a love-feast at the 
Wesleyan chapel, he resolved to go and find some amusement 
out of it. He would take down the names of all the speakers 
and the substance of their remarks, that he might parody the 
service, and make fun of the speakers, when he spent a night 
with his companions. Accordingly he took his pocket-book 
and pencil, and secured a back seat, where he could see and 
hear everything. He wrote down the name of each speaker, 
with just sufficient of the testimony to enable him to re- 
member it. 

These pious people had what they called ' a good time,' and 
they kept his pencil very busy. His neighbours and friends 
told how the religion of the Lord Jesus Christ made them 
happy, and strong, and powerful for good. His own mother 
told how the Lord had blessed her home, and cheered her 
heart, and how the burden of her prayer was that God would 
' save her Isaac' 

One after another these simple statements were made, till 
he had a long list of names written down, and a number of 
facts recorded that sorely perplexed him. 

His conscience arrested him with this problem : 

1 Isaac, you have known these people all your life. In sick- 
ness and in health, in prosperity and adversity, they have been 
true to their principles. Some of them have endured perse- 
cution for Christ's sake, and yet they have honourably main- 
tained their profession. You never knew any of them do a 
mean, shabby, dishonest deed. They never told you a lie or 
tried to deceive you in their lives. Are they lying now ? or 
are they speaking the truth ? If they are speaking the truth, 
you are on the wrong side of the hedge.' 

Quick as a flash of sunlight, this reasoning revealed to him 
the hollowness of his infidel notions, and the worthlessness of 
his sceptical arguments. He saw he could not argue against 
such facts, and it would be useless to try to shake their testi- 
mony. His proud intellect was confessedly beaten once more. 
He felt that he had no excuse for his wicked life and mis- 
chievous teachings. He folded up his pocket-book, and put 


away his pencil, and sprang to his feet. In a few brief 
sentences he told them how he had heard first one and then 
another tell how the religion of the Lord Jesus Christ made 
them happy, and strong, and powerful for good. He was 
not happy, but he had made up his mind that if there was a 
heaven, he would gain it ; and if there was a hell, he would 
miss it.' Then, bringing down his hand on the pew door before 
him like a sledge-hammer, he finished his remarks by saying, 
1 And if ever I do get converted, the devil may look out.' 

These remarks produced a great impression on his friends at 
Skelmanthorpe. They knew not how to receive them. If 
they received them seriously, they might indulge hopes that 
would be disappeinted. If they took them as another of his 
jokes, it was time he ceased to joke with such solemn questions. 
When they learned, however, that he had attended the prayer- 
meeting at Doncaster on the previous Sunday, and gone will- 
ingly into the inquiry-room there, they began to think that he 
was really in earnest. 

He was now in a state of transition, and he candidly ad- 
mitted that he had brought matters to a serious crisis. By his 
visit to the inquiry-room at Doncaster, and his remarks at the 
love-feast at Skelmanthorpe, he had taken the first step to- 
wards reformation. He regarded these public acts as pledges 
and promises solemnly binding upon him, and he felt the time 
had come when he must break away from his old companions 
and habits. With his mouth he had made confession, but he 
had not yet ' with the heart believed unto righteousness.' 

He went one day into the ' Wellington Inn,' and told the 
landlady ' he was going to turn over a new leaf.' She told him 
she would believe it when she saw it. He told her she would 
see it, for he had fully made up his mind about it. 

About this time a love-feast was held at Doncaster, at which 
he said, ' It will be a bad day for the devil when Isaac Marsden 
is converted.' 

It is important to bear these public utterances in mind, as 
indicating the importance he attached to such things in later 
years. I have heard him say, the devil knew it was a very 
serious matter when he went to the penitent form in the 


inquiry-room, and when he spoke at the love-feast. These 
things indicated a change of mind and of purpose, but as yet 
he had not been born again. 

Fortunately he fell into the company of a few friends at Don- 
caster who gave him most valuable help and counsel at this 
critical period. A young convert, named John J. Butler, who 
was employed as a tailor, and who had been « meeting in band ' 
for some time, induced him to attend all the means of grace, 
both public and private, and took him into his confidence and 
gave him the benefit of his experience. Another person who 
took a great interest in him was ' friend Naylor,' brother of the 
Kev. William Naylor, a holy man, of mild and gentle spirit, 
who gave him wise counsel and valuable help. Another was 
'friend Unsworth,' a shoemaker, of a meek and quiet spirit, 
and a holy man of God. But perhaps he received most help 
from ' friend Waring,' an old man famous for his piety and 

These men of God made Isaac their special care, and never 
allowed him to escape from their influence. They took him 
to class-meeting, prayer-meeting, band-meeting, love-feast, and 
preaching services, and to their own homes, for instruction and 
counsel and encouragement. They led him as a poor broken- 
hearted penitent to the Saviour, and urged him to seek for 

* Friend Waring ' went to visit him in his rooms at the 
' Wellington Inn,' and found he had a library of infidel books 
that had cost him from ten to twenty pounds. He pointed out 
that the writings of Paine, Yoltaire, and Mirabeau had done 
incalculable harm to the cause of Christ, and had supplied 
Isaac with arguments and information that helped to bring 
religion into contempt. How could he ask the Lord to receive 
him with these unclean and mischievous things in his hands ? 

They talked the matter over, and prayed about it, till Isaac 
resolved that all his bad books should be destroyed. They 
carried them downstairs into the brew-house in the yard, and 
consigned them, one by one, to the brew-house fire. But this 
mode of destruction was too slow ; so they made a bonfire of 
them, and when the last book had been burned to tinder he 


walked into the house, saying to himself : ' There, they will 
never do anybody else the harm they have done me.' 

From this time, in penitence and prayer, he diligently 
sought for mercy. It was not an easy matter with him. He 
had sinned so flagrantly against the clearest light and know- 
ledge, that it was necessary to give him a wholesome dread of 
sin, and make him as sensitive as a burnt child that dreads the 
fire. There was a conflict in his soul which he never forgot to 
his dying day, and that left its. mark on all his future life. 
Again and again I find him saying, ' What a devil I have 
been ! "Will the Lord save such a guilty wretch ? ' And often 
in bitter anguish he would exclaim : ' "Woe ! woe to the devil 
if ever I get converted ! ' 

This terrible struggle lasted for some days, and it is impos- 
sible to describe the mental anguish and sorrow he endured. 
His sins were arrayed against him in all their heinousness and 
wantonness. But he was wonderfully helped by his kind 
friends at Doncaster, who gave him most valuable advice, 
sympathy, and aid. 

The crisis was reached on Sunday morning, October nth, 
1834, when he resolved to give God no rest till his prayers 
were answered and his sins forgiven. He attended the six 
o'clock prayer-meeting that morning, asked his friends to pray 
for him every hour of the day, and told them privately that he 
'meant business.' He believed it was his privilege to walk 
in the light of God's favour, and be made happy in His love, 
and he would win his privileges or he would die. And that 
day deliverance came. He attended all the public means of 
grace, but it was in his room, during the interval of service, 
that his prayers were answered. It was while he was alone, 
on his knees, offering himself as a poor captive exile to God, 
and pleading for mercy, that his soul was set at liberty. 

His testimony was clear and undoubted. He felt that God 
had for Christ's sake pardoned all his sins. His experience at 
that moment was : 

' Not a cloud doth arise 
To darken the skies, 
Or hide for one moment my Lord from mine eyes.' 


He speaks of this time years afterwards as ' the ever- memo- 
rable day — a day I trust I shall look back to with delight 
when I have been ten thousand years in glory — when I first 
began in earnest to seek the Lord. Blessed be God, I sought 
Him not in vain. I sought till I found Him. I then went on 
seeking God with greater earnestness than ever, until I was 
enabled to lay claim to the blood of Christ which cleanseth 
from all sin.' 

One of his first acts was to go home and tell his mother. 
There were several people in the house at the time, but he 
made no secret of his new experience. He had served the 
devil publicly, and he had no desire to serve the Lord 
privately; so he told them all that his sins were forgiven, 
and now he had begun to serve God. His mother turned 
pale and almost fainted on hearing the news. He asked a 
neighbour to pray with him, and they all knelt together to 
return thanks for his conversion. His sister knelt beside him, 
listening attentively for some faint sigh or responsive 'amen.' 
She had not long to wait, for he soon gave a response that 
startled them all, and made the house ring again, 

*He carried the good news personally to friends Butler, 
Unsworth, Waring, Naylor, and all who had any sympathy 
with him, or love for the cause of Christ. He went many 
miles to inform his brother-in-law, the Eev. E. Tyas, and ask 
an interest in his prayers. He showed his gratitude on many 
occasions to those holy men who had given him such wise 
counsel and timely help during those days of darkness before 
his conversion. 

The genuineness of his conversion was shown at once by its 
fruits. When he told his mother of this marvellous change, 
she was somewhat doubtful and sceptical, but his changed 
conduct soon satisfied her that the work was of God, and was 
no mere fleeting impression or religious excitement. 

His social instincts had been remarkably strong. He had 
never spent a night at home for years, and it seemed as though 
life would be intolerable to him without the stimulating excite- 
ment of his wild companions. Now he loved to be alone with 
his Bible and his meditations. He retired to some quiet room, 


where he could study the Scriptures, and meditate, and pray 
for hours together without interruption. Occasionally he sought 
one of his spiritual advisers for religious instruction and counsel 
and help ; but when he had gained the information he desired, 
he would return to the peace and quietness of his own little 

His conversation had been rough and unrestrained. He had 
neglected to keep control over his thoughts and his tongue, 
and his language had often been wicked, and sometimes even 
blasphemous. Xow his words were more careful and guarded. 
As a straw will show which way the wind blows, or indicate 
the direction of the current, so even the little acts of his life 
proved the thoroughness of his change. Shortly after his con- 
version, he had been making up a parcel in the warehouse at 
Doncaster, and talking to his younger brother, when he suddenly 
sprang to his feet, and brought his head into violent contact 
with a cupboard door that he had carelessly left open. It was 
a blow that gave him a great shock and caused much pain. 
He rubbed the wounded spot with his hand, and danced about 
the room, saying to himself: 'Bless the Lord! if I had not 
been converted, that would have made me swear!' This 
incident was a source of great amusement to his brother at 
time, but it convinced him that Isaac's conversion was a 
radical change, and not a mere profession. 

His intellectual studies had been most mischievous and 
unsatisfactory. He was an omnivorous reader, and had devoured 
all the books that came in his way. Now he was a man of 
one, book. He read nothing but his Bible, and that book had 
such a charm for him that he cared for no other. 

In all these respects his conduct for a few days after his 
conversion was so different from what it had been before, that 
it thoroughly confirmed his professions. His life was so com- 
pletely changed that it was evident he had become 'a neAv 
creature.' Old things had passed away, and all things had 
become new. 



The story of Isaac Marsden's conversion spread like wild-fire. 
The country people heard the news at the fairs and markets, 
and carried it home to the remotest villages and hamlets in 
South Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire. 

His old companions received the story with screams of 
laughter and rounds of applause, and they repeated it as a 
good joke. They said he was only getting a closer insight into 
the secrets of the Methodists, and the next time he came 
round with his cart he would bring a choice stock of new jokes 
an& spicy stories for their amusement. Nothing could induce 
them to treat the subject seriously ; they knew Isaac too well. 

The general public received the news with suspicion and 
reserve. They hoped for the best, but they evidently thought 
it was too good to be true. They would suspend their judg- 
ment, and wait till they saw and heard him for themselves. 
They had no faith in these sudden conversions, and did not 
see how a wild, reckless sinner could be suddenly transformed 
into a saint. That kind of thing might be good enough, for 
the Methodists, but they would not trust any new convert, 
and put no faith in religious excitement. 

Even those Christian friends who had been working and 
praying for his conversion talked about it with bated breath 
and ominous references to the future. Staunch friends like 
Waring and Unsworth told him that the devil would not part 
with him without many a struggle. He had gained one 
glorious victory, after a desperate struggle ; but the enemy of 
his soul would attack him again and again, and he would surely 


fall, unless he continued to watch and pray and fight. His 
only safety lay in vigilance and aggressiveness. 

Thus his conversion became the theme of general conversa- 
tion ; it was discussed as eagerly as political questions are 
canvassed during a general election. Not only did the religious 
public talk about it, but the pot-house orators discussed it in 
bar-parlours and kitchens, till they quarrelled and fought over 
this extraordinary subject. Isaac was so well known as a 
notorious infidel and profligate, that his conversion created a 
profound impression, and set men thinking and talking about 
religion who had never thought about it before. 

The one question on everybody's lips was, ' How will he 
behave himself?' He will come with his cart at the usual 
time, and collect his accounts, and receive orders, and deliver 
goods ; but what difference will his conversion make % Will 
he smoke and drink, and put up at public-houses, and mix 
with his old companions? Or will he be a Christian 'out 
and out 1 ' 

Isaac was in a very humble and child-like frame of mind. 
He had lost all the bounce and pride that he had a few weeks 
ago. He declared he had been ' the chief of sinners,' and his 
conversion was a miracle of grace. He knew he had fierce 
passions and a strong will, and he was terribly afraid that in 
some unguarded moment he might be led into sin by the 
enemy. He believed there was no safety for him in moderation 
and quietness. He must be vigilant and aggressive. He must 
either be where the battle raged hottest, or he might become a 
deserter and a traitor. The one overmastering question with 
him was : ' How shall I maintain my loyalty to Christ, and my 
zeal for His glory 1 ' 

His answer was : 'By being a Christian "out and out." ' His 
friends advised him that by taking up a bold and aggressive 
position in the Church, and by carrying the war into the 
enemy's camp, he might be saved from many fierce temptations, 
and be better able to stand in the day of trial. Hence he 
resolved that there should never be any doubt about his 
position in the future. The Church and the world, angels, 
and men, and devils, should know on whose side he fought. 


He had led scores to sin and sorrow, but he would lead 
hundreds, if not thousands, to Christ. His motto should be, 
' Out and out.' 

Looking back half a century, we can see the wisdom of the 
choice he made, and we can admire the heroic efforts he put 
forth to reach and save his fellow-men. He had been no 
ordinary sinner. He was not a fifty-pence debtor, but one 
that owed to his Lord more than he could ever pay. His 
rescue from a life of sin was such a manifestation of infinite 
power and love that he could only look on it with amazement, 
and exclaim : 

' O to grace how great a debtor 
Daily I'm constrained to be ! ' 

And his own example had led so many to ruin that he felt con- 
strained to spend his life in seeking to rescue them. So that 
he had not only a debt of gratitude to repay, but a life of 
mischief to undo ; and these thoughts led him to declare that 
he would be a Christian ' out and out. ' 

Let us illustrate this principle by a reference to his private 
and. public life at the commencement of his Christian career. 

In his private life his Christian friends set before him a high 
standard of experience. Friends Naylor, Unsworth, Waring, 
and Butler were holy men. They enjoyed the blessing of 
entire sanctification or perfect love. They believed in it, and 
preached it, and enforced it on him. They told him he could 
never have the power of learning, or culture, or wealth, or 
social position ; but he might have the power of goodness. 

They kept him to all the means of grace, both public and 
private, so far as his business would permit. They met him at 
six o'clock on Monday morning for an hour's fellowship, com- 
munion, and prayer, before he began the duties of the week. 
Then they agreed to pray for each other seven times a day till 
they met again ; and whenever he returned, they visited his 
house to ascertain how his soul prospered. 

He formed a habit of spreading his Bible open on a chair in 
his room, kneeling down beside it and carefully reading it. 
He usually began with Genesis, Job, and Matthew, and read 


consecutively and methodically morning and night without fail, 
and often at noon. He not only read, but compared scripture 
with scripture, and used the best commentaries he could find, 
•and prayed often that God would make him a diligent and 
successful student of His Word. In this way he soon became 
mighty in the Scriptures, and had his mind well stored with 

saving truth. 

The young convert also acquired the habit of ejaculatory 
prayer. He tried to carry out the injunction, * Pray without 
ceasing,' and I am inclined to think he did it literally. For, if 
a prayer were not on his tongue, it would be always on his 
mind and in his heart. He prayed for years seven times a 
day, though no one knew it but the Master, and one or two 
privileged friends who were in his confidence and who prayed 
for him. 

In all this attendance on the means of grace, and private 
prayer, and meditation on the Scriptures, there was a child-like 
simplicity and godly sincerity that we are bound to admire. 
He never paraded his piety before the world. He had not a 
particle of the Pharisee about him. His motives were pure, 
and he sought only the glory of God> and the prosperity of his 
own soul, and the salvation of those around him. 

His friends often induced him to make individual and 
mutual covenants with God. To these written covenants they 
solemnly signed their names, and sometimes had them attested 
by witnesses. I have found several of these covenants, duly 
signed and witnessed and dated. In several cases he solemnly 
covenants with a tempted brother to abstain from the use of 
intoxicating liquor and tobacco for a year, or some other limited 
period ; and his friend signs with him, and solemnly promises 
to observe the same conditions. 

Regularly on Saturday evening, after business hours, he 
used to put away his books and papers, lock the door, read a 
portion of Scripture, and solemnly renew his covenant with 
God after this fashion : 

4 1 give myself away without reserve to Thee. Bow Thy heavens, O 
God, and help me both in temporal and spiritual things, in body and soul, 
by night and Viy day, eating and drinking, selling and buying, preaching 


and praying, every day, every hour, every minute, every second, every 
breath to be Thine* Plunge me deeper and deeper still each day this 
week into Thy precious blood, and make and keep me clean. 

' Each day I am Thine. Save me. Amen. 

' This covenant I now sign this Saturday night (time half -past eleven), 
and commit my all to Thee. 

' So help me God. Amen. (Signed) ' Isaac Marsden.' 

These covenants were made only for a short period, that 
they might be renewed with great solemnity and impressive- 
ness. Sometimes he would write down the days of the week, 
and the duties of each day, and at the end of each day's record 
he would write : ' I am Thine, Lord, save me. Amen.' 

By severe mental discipline and self-denial he gained the 
victory over his passions and lusts, and grew in piety and 
power. Still he had not attained to that perfect love which 
his brethren enjoyed, and they gave him no rest. At the six 
o'clock Monday morning band meeting, before he left home, 
and on the Saturday evening, after he returned, and all day on 
Sunday, they were preaching holiness to him. In season and 
out of season, they urged him to fulfil the Divine command : 
4 Be ye holy : for I am holy.' It was not, however, till about 
sixteen months after his conversion that he entered into the 
privileges of the higher life. Writing in February, 1836, on 
this subject, he says : 

'I first dared to give God my whole heart, and believed that 
the blood of 'Jesus Christ cleansed me from all sin. This 
happened at a place called Langworth, at the inn where I put 
up — Mr. Talbot's. Before I lay down to rest, I made a practice 
of reading a portion of Scripture on my knees, and I did the 
same in the morning. In this way I had read twice and a 
half through the Bible ; and as I got to prayer, this passage 
came into my mind : " My son, give Me thine heart. " And I said 
to God: "Here, Lord, Thou shalt have it," believing that a God 
so pure and holy would not keep sin in His hand. And, 
blessed be God ! I still feel that the blood cleanses me from 
all sin. my God, may this ever be my experience ! ' 

It is a remarkable fact that, from the day of his conversion 
to the day of his death, he never lost the sense of God's 


favour ; and the high state of Christian experience he reached 
in 1836 was maintained to the end. In his private life and 
Christian experience he was a Christian ' out and out.' 

And it is equally true of his public life and Christian work. 

Immediately after his conversion, he went to the ' Wellington 
Inn,' the scene of many of his wildest pranks ; and finding a 
number of his old companions there, he told them of his con- 
version, and invited them to follow his example. He warned 
them that if they would not go with him to heaven, he would 
take care he did not go with them to hell. He solemnly ad- 
monished them that he had done with them for ever, unless 
they repented. Then he knelt on the sanded floor, and fer- 
vently prayed for their conversion. The landlady told him 
he had lost his senses, and some of his comrades ridiculed him ; 
but he went again and again, and, with tears in his eyes and 
anguish in his soul, he tried to save them. Three of his com- 
panions were either killed, or carried away by swift and fatal 
disease, and they died in their sins. Their sudden deaths made 
a great impression on him. He regarded himself as morally 
guilty of contributing to their ruin by his precept and example. 
He had been a ringleader in the devil's army, and his reckless- 
ness had been infectious. It was now a terrible revelation to 
him that it is much easier to lead men to ruin than to bring 
them to Christ. Some of his old companions threw his former 
deeds in his teeth, and laughed him to scorn. But he faithfully 
warned them, and continually prayed for them, until some of 
them yielded themselves to Christ, and became his spiritual 

His ready wit and merry humour ofyen gave point and 
pungency to his remarks. On his long journeys he was com- 
pelled to make use of public-houses, and associate with men 
who had no love for the Gospel. On these occasions he set a 
good example of Christian temperance. Instead of calling for 
spirits or beer, as had been his custom, he would call for a glass 
of water, and pay the same price for it as for beer. As he sat 
drinking his water, he would tell the company of the doings 
of John Barleycorn in his neighbourhood. He would show 
ln'W drink makes men quarrelsome, foolish, and miserable. 


He would tell of broken chairs, and crazy tables, and cracked 
pots, and suffering wives, and pining children ; thus making 
a Temperance speech before Bands of Hope and Temperance 
Societies were established. Often he would kneel down and 
ask God to save some poor drunkard, while the landlord 
looked on in mute astonishment. 

Driving on the highroad, he would scatter tracts, and stop 
to have a few words of religious conversation with strangers. 
Passing through Tealby, near Market Kasen, he found two 
men by the road-side breaking stones on a stone-heap. He 
told them he had heard of a stone harder to break than any 
they ever saw. Some people had been hammering at it for 
more than sixty years, and they had not broken it yet. He 
had had a blow or two at it, but he could make no impression 
on it, and he believed it grew harder each year. The stone- 
breakers were wonderfully interested. They said they never 
heard of such a stone. They should like to have a blow or 
two at it, for they were sure they could break it. Then he 
told them it was neither limestone, flint, nor granite, but an 
old sinner's heart ; and nothing but the mighty power of God 
could move such a heart. Then he knelt down by the side 
of the stone-heap, and earnestly prayed that God would take 
away the hearts of stone from these men, and give them hearts 
of flesh. Then he mounted his trap, and drove away ; but 
one of the stone-breakers became a child of God through that 
singular conversation. 

On another occasion, two farm-labourers were cleaning out 
a filthy drain as he passed. He stopped and told them of a 
filthier spot than that sewer — one that all their skill and 
experience would never enable them to cleanse and purify. 
They said that was bad enough, and they had no desire to see 
a worse. Then he told them of the foul impurities of the 
unregenerate heart, and urged them there and then to seek 
the cleansing blood of Christ, and be made new creatures. 
They listened with astonishment and respect, and he finished 
his exhortation by kneeling on the grass close by, and praying 
for them. 

During the race week at Doncaster he found many oppor- 


[unities of reproving sin and making known the Saviour. He 
joined a few young friends in placarding the trees and walls 
and gateposts with texts of Scripture giving warnings and 
invitations to sinners. He joined the giddy multitude, and 
scattered tracts, and spoke some home truths to the surging, 
reckless mob, that made them respect him, if they did not 
follow his advice. 

He visited the sick and needy, and diligently sought out 
opportunities of doing good. Many a poor old saint has had a 
friendly visit from him, when a chapter has been read, and a 
prayer offered, and a half-crown piece has changed owners. 
He had been open-handed and generous in treating the 
drunken and dissolute, before his conversion, and he did not 
think that religion should make him mean and stingy. He 
resolved that he would give away more than he had ever done, 
but his money should be invested where it would bring him 
good interest. So he helped to dry the mourner's tears, and 
cheer lonely hearts, and feed the hungry, and clothe the naked, 
and follow the example of the blessed Christ, Who, when He 
was on earth, ' went about doing good.' 

Thus, in works of mercy and charity, and by personal service 
and self-denial in seeking to win men to Christ, he proved the 
genuineness of his conversion. 

Everywhere and at all times he reproved sinners, and warned 
them of their guilt and danger. He made the most of his 
opportunities, and was instant in season and out of season. 

Often, after he had sold his cloth in the market-place, his 
cart became his pulpit, and the market people his congregation, 
and he would stand bare-headed and without coat, warning 
sinners and inviting them to the Saviour. The people would 
gather round, and spend a few minutes listening to his rough 
and homespun language. He had a ready wit and a fluent 
tongue ; and though he had now begun to fear God, he never 
was afraid of cither man or devil. He sometimes met with 
rudeness and insolence ; but if any man tried to silence him, 
or put him down, he found it a formidable task. These street 
harangues were signally owned of God in the conversion of 
sinners of the worst kind. Men and women who never went 


to any place of worship were reached and rescued in this way, 
Combative, argumentative infidels were met and silenced wher 
they entered into discussion with him 

' And fools who came to scoff remained to pray .' 

If his language was not always polished and polite, it was 
always pungent and practical, and, judged by results, highl} 

His success in this kind of evangelistic work, where so man] 
try and so few succeed, indicated where his strength lay, anc 
he resolved to make himself an efficient workman. For this 
purpose he read and studied, and prepared such matter as 
would catch the popular ear and gain the attention of the people 

He went chiefly to the scenes of his former folly and sin 
and devoted most of his time and attention to the rescue anc 
salvation of those whom he had previously led into mischief 
This required great courage and patience, but he was wonder 
fully successful. The feast Sunday after his conversion was < 
memorable day to him. He spent the day at Skelmanthorpe 
and as soon as the amusements began, he took his stanr 
between the two public-houses, and began preaching to his ok 
companions. They chaffed him, offered him beer, and spirits 
and tobacco, and reminded him of his former excesses. Thei 
they cursed, and abused, and insulted him, and tried to mak< 
him lose his temper. It was fortunate for them that he wa: 
able to possess his soul in patience. He was as strong as < 
horse ; and if he had permitted himself to attack them ii 
anger, he would have beaten some of them Avithin an inch o 
their lives. But he bore their insults meekly ; and when 1^ 
was reviled, he reviled not again. Grace triumphed, and tha 
open-air service was owned and blessed of God to the conver 
sion of a few of his old friends. 

Thus he laid the foundation of his future career, and showec 
to the Church and the world what was in him. While h 
laboured diligently and successfully, he kept his heart righ 
with God, and the flame of his piety at a white heat. B; 
his outward conduct and his private devotions he showed tha 
he was a Christian ' out and out.' 



Towards the latter end of the year 1836, Brother Waring 
mentioned Mr. Marsden's name at the Local Preachers' Meeting, 
and he was invited to go out as an exhorter in the Doncaster 
Circuit. In considering his case, they discussed his conversion 
and religious experience, his character, abilities, and acquain- 
tance with Methodist doctrines. 

There could be no question about his conversion, for that 
was as manifest' as the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. Those 
who had known him all his life bore testimony to the reality 
of the change in his conduct, and the reformation in his char- 

As to his abilities and fitness for the work, they pointed out 
how he had already distinguished himself by rescuing some of 
his old companions, and introducing them to the Church. 
Some of the most notorious sinners in the circuit had become 
his spiritual; children, and were now living holy and useful 
lives. If it were asked what he could ^do, they pointed to 
what he had done. 

The only question that caused any doubt was his acquain- 
tance with Methodist theology, and the extent of his reading 
on religious subjects. But this was soon settled by his voracious 
appetite for reading ; and by the vote of the meeting he was 
called to preach. 

As a matter of fact, he began to preach the day he was 
converted. He never allowed sin to appear in his presence and 
go away unreproved. He never forgot to warn sinners of their 
guilt and danger, and invite them to the Saviour. He became 


a successful preacher and was the means of saving some within 
a week of his conversion. 

While his name was yet in a Methodist class-book ' on trial,' 
he had been the means of saving scores by his earnest appeals 
and faithful warnings. Before the Church on earth recognised 
him even as a member, the great Head of the Church recognised 
him and used him in His service. Thus he became an apostle, 
'not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ.' His call 
to preach came from head-quarters, and the rank and file of 
the Church were slow to recognise it. He had been preaching 
successfully for two years in the streets and markets, the 
public-houses, and the haunts of sin, before he was called to 
preach by his brethren. 

It was some time before he took kindly to our orthodox 
notions of behaviour in the pulpit. He could never be induced 
to submit to any written or unwritten form of service. He 
would break many of the rules of propriety, and scatter to the 
winds everything that limited his freedom of action. He would 
pray sometimes till he frightened the people, and made their 
hair almost stand on end, and sent a thrill and shudder through- 
out the congregation. He would preach till the people fainted, 
or left the chapel in disgust, or came in deep distress to the 
penitent form and cried for mercy. In one way or another he 
was sure to move them, and make his mark upon them. They 
would either love him or hate him, help him or hinder him, 
follow him or leave him. They would make their choice, and 
act decisively ; for they could not be neutrals. 

He seemed to forget himself occasionally, and would take off 
his coat and preach in his shirt sleeves, as he had often done 
in the market-place. The stern silence and severe decorum of 
some congregations seemed to distress him, and he would 
publicly thank God for a fervent 'Amen' or a loud 'Hallelujah.' 
He could bear noise and enthusiasm and excitement, or even 
opposition and persecution, but he could not bear formality and 
stagnation. He had his own ways of doing things, and he soon 
disregarded old prejudices, and ignored even the opinions of 
pious people when these interfered with his work. The burden 
on his soul was just this : ' Men are perishing for lack of the 


Gospel, and I am sent Avith that Gospel to every creature. 
Men are dying in darkness because they see not the Light of 
the world ; and I am sent as His herald to make Him known. 
If I warn them of their danger, and they reject Him, I am 
innocent of their blood, and their guilt and condemnation will 
be on their own heads. If they die in darkness at my side, 
and I fail to hold forth the light of the Gospel, I am their 
betrayer and murderer. I might have saved them, but I was 
too idle, or too selfish, or too proud, or too careless.' Hence 
the salvation of souls was a burden on his conscience, and, like 
one of the fiery prophets of the old dispensation, he preached 
and lived that Gospel, and delivered his message, whether men 
would accept it or reject it. 

He had a firm conviction that the Gospel of the Lord Jesus 
Christ is an unfailing remedy for all the woes of a ruined 
world. He believed that it is the ' power of God unto salvation 
to every one that believeth ; ' and he would make^men accept 
it and believe it, or they should have no peace. 

In politics and religion he was a radical, in the sense that 
he went to the ' root ' of a matter. He knew the disease that 
afflicted humanity, and he knew the cure. His sovereign 
remedy for all the vice, and crime, and profanity, and wretched- 
ness around him was conversion. The burden of his message 
was : ' Ye must be born again ; ' and all his thoughts, and 
energies, and prayers, and efforts were intended to effect this. 
If souls were saved, his services were successful. If there were 
no conversions, he went home, sad and sick at heart and dis- 
tressed, to his closet ; and in an agony of prayer he asked the 
Lord the reason why. 

At the commencement of his preaching life I find him 
praying : 

' may the Lord ever be with me and make me in earnest ! 
God is in earnest — heaven is in earnest — devils are in earnest — 
hell is in earnest. And in order to save my soul and them 
that hear me, 1 must be in earnest, or be in danger of being 
damned in the pulpit. Souls are on the verge of hell. We 
must be in earnest to pluck them as brands from eternal burn- 
ings. If a mother ran into the fire to save her child from 


being consumed, she would be in earnest. So we must be in 
earnest ; we must make quick work — do it with all our might. 
my God, help me ! blessed Jesus, help me ! Holy Spirit, 
quicken me ! ' 

Such a prayer as this would be followed by an address bris- 
tling with pungent home truths. He would arrest the attention 
by a graphic picture in words ; and while the sinner sat spell- 
bound, charmed, and listening with breathless attention, he 
would swoop down upon him with the terrible truth : « Thou 
art the man.' The directness and power of his preaching made 
him popular from the first. He was not only called by the 
Master and by the officials of the Church to preach, but he was 
called by the masses. From the beginning of his ministry the 
poor people heard him gladly, and he could always command 
a good congregation. 

He would conclude the service with a lively prayer-meeting. 
He would have plenty of singing, short and practical prayers, 
and he would insist on the use of the penitent form. He 
would concentrate all his efforts, and focus all his powers, for 
the conversion of his hearers. He would not only preach to 
Jheni with terrible plainness and earnestness, but he would 
privately appeal to them, and compel them to submit. If they 
did not mean to be saved, they should keep out of his way, 
or they might take offence at his earnest godly efforts to reach 
them. He did not stand on his dignity when sinners came in 
his way j and if they took offence at his plainness, he was very 
sorry, blit he really could not help it. He had a message from 
God to deliver, and he would neither soften his words nor 
smooth his. tongue, but speak the truth in love. He would go 
doggedly, perseveringly, his own way, and ride down all opposi- 
tion, and surround himself with weeping penitents, and gather 
in the outcast and abandoned. 

Thus he carried his motto, ' Out and out,' to the pulpit and 
prayer-meeting. He would have nothing common-place and 
ordinary. He would have no half-measures or compromises. 
His inflexible, unalterable determination was, ' / will save men.' 
In this spirit he accepted the Call to preach, and he soon became 
known as a ' son of thunder/ and a pioneer who prepared the 


way of the Lord wherever he went. He seldom preached 
without making his mark; and he was so successful that 
invitations came from every part of the Doncaster Circuit, and 
from the distant towns and villages where he transacted 


Among the most remarkable conversions at this early period 
of his revival work is the following story told by a man at 
TVroot love-feast. He said that one Saturday night he had a 
dream, in which he saw the walls of Jericho standing before 
him strong and high, as though nothing would ever lay them 
low. And there came the priests of the Lord before those 
massive walls; and when they blew their rams' horns and 
shouted, the walls of Jericho fell down flat. The man said he 
was familiar enough with the Bible story of the capture of 
Jericho, but this dream made a profound impression upon him, 
and he spoke to his wife about it. On the Sunday evening he 
thought he would take a walk and try to forget his strange 
dream. He knew not where to go, but was led by some 
mysterious providence to the Wesleyan chapel. It was not 
the usual preaching night, and under ordinary circumstances 
the chapel would have been closed, but the friends had secured 
the services of Mr. Marsden for a special sermon. He joined 
the congregation, and went with them to the chapel, thinking 
all the while about his dream. The text was : ' By faith the 
walls of Jericho fell down.' (Heb. xi. 30.) 

The man was spell-bound as the preacher pictured the city 
as he had seen it in his dream — with massive walls and 
impregnable gates, and defended by a giant race. Then came 
the procession of pilgrims round the city, without battering- 
rams and almost unarmed, but trusting in the omnipotent 
strength of Jehovah. Then there was a shout, and a crash, 
and a dust, and a din, and above the uproar was heard the 
preacher's 'Hallelujah! for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.' 
Then the preacher described the sinner's heart as that embattled 
city which must be surrendered to the Lord Jesus Christ. In 
graphic sentences he pictured the devil in possession of it, and 
laughing to scorn the puny efforts of a few local preachers and 
prayer-leaders. Then he reminded his hearers that the same 


Almighty God Who had sent Joshua against proud Jericho, 
had sent him to preach the Gospel to them. And if the Lord 
sent him to summon all the unconverted hearts in that congre- 
gation to surrender, he would go in spite of men and devils. 
Then came a fiery, impassioned appeal to sinners to throw open 
the gates and welcome into their hearts their Lord and King. 
Among the first to respond to this appeal was the poor terror- 
stricken dreamer. He gave his heart to God that night, and 
became a faithful and devout servant of the Lord. 

As illustrating the thoroughness and energy of his early 
missionary labours, I give a few extracts from his sermon 
record of that period — 1837. 

' Sunday, August 6th. — I preached at Hoxey, Westwood, and 
Epworth. Friend Butler was with me, and it was a high day 
to our souls. Four or five received the blessing of sanctifica- 
tion, and came to the penitent bench, and humbled themselves 
under the mighty hand of God. I had much liberty, and the 
Lord backed His word with power.' 

' Wednesday, August 9th. — I preached at Amcoates, and went 
expecting much good ; but I felt disappointed with the unbelief 
»and backwardness that filled the place. I blamed myself in a 
great measure for coming to the congregation half an hour late. 
I felt the effects of it all through the service and some time 
after. O may God forgive me, and help me never to do the 
like again ! I did not loiter my time away with company, but 
I spent it in private.' 

'Thursday, August 10th. — I preached at East Butterwick 
with great liberty, and the Lord was amongst us for good. 
Miss Jackson, a young woman from Barnsley, went with me 
to the chapel, and the Lord slew her with the sword of the 
Spirit. Several came to the penitent bench and were blessed.' 

' Thursday, August 24th. — At Ferry Owston in Lincolnshire 
I went into a class-meeting. The leader had just begun to 
speak to the last member. I gave an exhortation, and we had 
a glorious time. One of his members professed to have claimed 
the cleansing blood of Christ.' 

'Friday, Sept. 1st. — Praise God, I have had a glorious week. 
God has owned my labours.' 


'Sunday, September 17th, 1837. — Winterton. I had a 
working day ; I began with the six o'clock prayer-meeting in 
the morning. Then I led a class at eight, and gave an exhorta- 
tion at the prayer-meeting at ten. At noon I visited the sick. 
After dinner we sang up the town, and I gave two exhortations. 
At two o'clock I preached, and held a prayer-meeting at the 
close of the service. Then I walked two miles to Wintering- 
ham, preached at six, and held a prayer-meeting at the close of 
the service. Penitents came for pardon, and believers for 
sanctification. A glorious time we had. Hallelujah to the 
Lamb for ever ! ' 

'Glentham, September 27th. — I preached here to a lively 
people who are zealous Christians. It is a small village, yet 
last winter twenty-four persons professed to receive the bless- 
ing of sanctification. One man with whom I stayed had re- 
ceived the blessing seven weeks after the Lord had pardoned 
his sins. The Lord was with us, and saved several — one an 
old man, and another a young woman who did not come till 
about ten o'clock. Several believers were sanctified. Salvation 
is free. bless God for His great salvation. He can in a 
moment save to the uttermost.' 

Writing from Thorne, Wednesday, October nth, 1837, he 
says : ' This has been a good day to my soul. It is now three 
years since I began to call on the name of the Lord — a day 
ever to be remembered by God and His holy angels, and my 
soul, that on Sunday, October nth, 1834, I threw down the 
weapons of my rebellion and began to serve the living God. 
The devil himself was disappointed. I am yet living ; I am 
yet on my way ; I am more determined than ever, praise God. 
Unto Him be all the glory. The devil's children are disap- 
pointed. They said, a few months, or a year or two, and Isaac 
Marsden would be back again among them. One of the devil's 
children told me yesterday that he was disappointed. may 
God Almighty help me to disappoint both men and devils ! 
Glory, I am more determined than ever ! I have been making a 
covenant with God for another year.' 

Everywhere he preached a free, full, and present salvation. 
Here is a specimen of his exhortation in a prayer-meeting : 


1 We are not to wait God's time, as some say. It is unscrip- 
tural. Now is Gtfd's time. We are not to wait for power to 
believe. That is Calvinism. If we must wait for power, we 
cannot believe without it ; and consequently all that do not 
believe are lost because God did not give the power. 

" But if on God I dare rely, 
The faith shall bring the power." 

There are hundreds that say they should like to be sanctified, 
and they pray for it, and they expect it some time, but they 
know not when. So they go on for years. what a way of 
living is this ! The putting off and unbelief of a converted 
man is worse than the unbelief of a worldly wicked man. 
The wicked man hopes to be saved, but he knows not when ; 
and so the professing Christian regards the blessing of sanctifi- 
cation. There is a sort of everlasting " some time else," instead 
of an everlasting now. It is a now salvation which the Bible 
speaks of. may God help me, and help the reader, to believe 
for a now salvation. Glory be to God, He says : " I am will- 
ing." may we take God at His word, which not only argues 
the perfection of faith, but the highest act of reason ! ' 

Having preached at a village where the Society was lifeless 
and low, he gathered the few desponding members together and 
prayed after this fashion : ' my God, raise Thy people. 
breathe upon them, and they shall revive. Lay to Thy mighty 
arm, and shake the prince of hell from his throne. hasten 
the coming of Thy kingdom in this place.' Then he gave 
them a stirring address, in which he said : 

' Mr. Bramwell lamented to see the blessing of sanctification 
on the decline. my God, Thou knowest the reason. May 
not this be one reason, that the preachers themselves — or very 
many of them — do not live in the possession of it? Local 
preachers swarm by hundreds who have not this blessing. The 
work of God does not revive because souls are not expected to 
be saved, and they do not expect believers to be sanctified. O 
my God, sanctify every one of these ambassadors, that they 
may preach as for their last time. Give them to see the evil 
of sin as they can bear it, and to know the wretchedness of 


mankind without salvation. O for the mind that is in Christ, 
that could weep tears of blood for sinners, and think no task 
too great for their salvation — no, not death itself ! Another 
reason is that leaders have not the blessing of sanctification ; 
they rarely speak about it ; and' numbers of them are strangers 
to it. What class-leaders are these ? They are not such as 
God would have. Some of them have been leaders ten or 
twenty years, and know nothing of this blessing. my God, 
arouse class-leaders to see their responsibility. Souls are saved 
or lost according as they live. Another reason is the conduct 
of the members themselves. They neglect their class-meeting ' 
for any trifling thing — a slight cold, or a headache, or a rainy 
night, or a friend on a visit, or worldly business, or some 
member they cannot look upon with pleasure. If they make 
these excuses when they might have been there, every such 
excuse will border upon a lie, and God will condemn them 
unless they repent. Many members injure their souls by a 
love of fashion and dress. The rags of the devil — his best 
clothing — may be seen on the heads, and arms, and bodies of 
professors. may the Lord strip them from every member of 
this Church ! And Christians swarm by hundreds that never 
attend week-night preachings and prayer-meetings. And if a 
strange preacher should come and deal faithfully with them, 
and hold a prayer-meeting, they are to be found in their pews 
as dumb as if they had no tongues. Some of them will have 
their heads down as if they were asleep, instead of coming 
forward to assist the minister by bearing up his arms in con- 
ducting the meeting, and in pleading for the salvation of sinners 
and for the blood which cleanses from all sin. my God, 
arouse every member of all the Churches into a life of activity. 
my God, breathe upon us, breathe upon us, that we may live.' 
Such plain and practical addresses were always powerful for 
good. They were sometimes received in a spirit of meekness 
and docility, and most blessed revivals followed. But some 
people regarded him as too thorough and enthusiastic, and 
w<;re disposed to take offence. Writing, ."December 16th, 1837, 
he says : ' I preached at Bawtry morning and night, and in 
the afternoon at Misson. Friends Vox. and Butler went with 


me. This was a high day to our souls. At night, before I 
went to preach, I was enabled to lay hold on God. I went 
relying on the promise of God, and believing that souls would 
be saved. I was enabled to preach with boldness, fearing no 
man. I had mighty liberty. Glory be to God for ever ! He 
made bare His holy arm at the prayer-meeting. Saints came 
forward for sanctification, and sinners came for pardon. The 
communion rail was surrounded with seekers. Praise God, 
yea, praise Him, all ye hosts of heaven. Praise Him, ye 
inhabitants of earth ; for He is worthy to be praised. That 
night the Lord sanctified believers and saved sinners. 
my God, ride on — ride on with great power and glory. Save 
sinners in this town and circuit by thousands. Bless God, 
about twenty were converted that night. It had been reported 
to me that the Eawtry people were very respectable and rather 
proud, and could not do with much noise, and I must be 
careful not to offend them. But, glory to God, He helped me 
to cast off my fears. I preached fearing no man; my voice 
was up, and the power of God was in the word. One member, 
a pious man, had prayed in the morning for God to save sinners, 
&ven if it was with confusion. And when God answered his 
prayer, and began to save by confusion, he was one of the 
first to run away. He thought such earnestness, with such 
plainness, and such a noise, would offend the congregation, 
and do an injury to the cause of religion. God looketh not as 
man looketh ; His ways are not the ways of man, who is but 
dust and ashes. Friends Pox and Butler are two mighty young 
men of God, and gave me great help. Praise God, O praise 
His holy name for ever for what He has done at this place. 
Praise Him for ever.' 

Passing through the village of Eastoft one day with his cart, 
the people told him there was to be a meeting at the chapel, 
and they asked him to preach. He had not time to put up 
his horse and occupy the pulpit, so he 'stood upon the cart and 
preached, while the horse stood still. He had a good con- 
gregation, and some good was done. 

After being a year on trial he was examined and accepted as 
a full and accredited local preacher. 


During his year of probation he had conducted successful 
revival services in his own and six other circuits ; namely, 
Doncaster, Epworth, Barton, Grimsby, Market Kasen, Brigg, 
and Pontefract. 

His detractors said that his converts were labouring under a 
temporary excitement, and would relapse in a few days or 
weeks to their former modes of life. Doubtless a small per- 
centage of unstable and excitable people would do so, but the 
work was far more real and genuine than they imagined. At 
Binbroke and Market Easen a genuine revival began at the 
time of his visits, and continued for months. The best evi- 
dence of its genuineness was its permanence, for in three 
months about one hundred were added to the Society. At 
Bonby also, in the Grimsby Circuit, about twenty were received 
into the Church, and in many other places similar results 
followed his visits. Many of these became local preachers, 
leaders, and prominent men in the Church, and some are alive 
to this day. 

He had diligently read the standard books of Methodist 
theology, and was able to give intelligent and satisfactory 
answers at his examination. His knowledge of Scripture was 
accurate, and intimate, and far-reaching. He had read the 
Bible systematically and consecutively through, four or five 
times, at his private devotions, besides reading it regularly in 
the public services of the sanctuary. 

His religious experience was equally satisfactory. Since the 
day of his conversion he had never had a moment's doubt of 
his acceptance with God. Every day he could sing : 

' My God, I am Thine, 
What -a comfort Divine, 
What a blessing to know that my Jesus is mine ! 

In the heavenly Lamb 
Thrice happy I am, 
And my heart it doth dance at the souud of His name. 

My Jesus to know, 
And feel His blood flow, 
'Tis life everlasting, 'tis heaven below.' 


Thus, on all the subjects in which he was examined, he 
received the approval of his brethren, and had his name put 
on the Doncaster Plan. It is the custom for the names of 
preachers to be inserted in the order of their seniority, and, as 
the youngest local preacher in the circuit, his name appeared 
at the foot of the Plan. He lived to be the oldest local 
preacher, and see his name at the head of the list; but he 
never tarnished his reputation, or brought himself into disgrace, 
as long as he lived. 

The great Head of the Church called him to preach, and 
qualified him for his work. His brethren simply endorsed and 
confirmed that call. 



The Wesleyan Conference of 1837 was held at Leeds, and its 
special means of grace were highly appreciated by Mr, Marsden. 
He says : 

'I went to Leeds Conference on Saturday, July 29th, and 
attended a band-meeting. I had a precious time. I struggled 
some time with the enemy whether I should speak or not. At 
length I overcame the enemy by the grace of God, and I had 
much liberty in speaking. On Sunday I had a good day. I 
heard four sermons. At night the Rev. Mr. Young of Liverpool 
preached, and the devil's kingdom was shaken, sinners were 
saved, and backsliders healed. On Monday the Rev. Mr. 
Banks preached in the forenoon, and believers were sanctified. 
On Tuesday Mr. Young preached in the open air, and the 
venerable Hodgson Casson gave a powerful exhortation. On 
Wednesday I fell in with a company of holy women from 
York, who had great power with God, and who laboured 
earnestly to point sinners to the bleeding Lamb.' 

He spent a week among such scenes and successes as these, 
and returned to his own circuit full of love to God, and pity 
for perishing souls. 

This week of spiritual enjoyment seems to have made a 
profound impression on him. It confirmed his decision to 
work for God, and rescue the perishing sinners around him ; 
and it accentuated those strong opinions he had already ex- 
pressed as to the needs of the Church and the claims of a 
fallen world. 

He had a select circle of friends, such as Butler, Waring, 
Unsworth, and Naylor, who were willing to go with him any- 



where, and share his toils and triumphs. He would take his 
horse and light cart early on the Sunday morning, drive over 
to some neglected village, and spend the day in arduous toil. 

On Sunday, August 27th, 1837, just after his return from 
Conference, he took friends Butler and Waring with him to a 
village called Smeaton in the Pontefract Circuit. They had 
sent the people word they were coming to rouse them, but they 
made no preparations to receive them, and did not even open 
the chapel door. Thus the evangelists found themselves in a 
strange village, on a Sunday morning, among a people who 
were not prepared to receive them. They went from door to 
door, inviting the inhabitants to the chapel. They found the 
chapel-keeper, and as soon as he had opened the doors they 
drew a large and attentive congregation. They sang, and 
prayed, and preached. In the afternoon they held an open-air 
service, and gathered such a congregation as Smeaton had 
rarely seen. The Word came with power, and touched the 
people, and roused their sympathies, and many cried for mercy. 
In the evening they packed the chapel again to suffocation, 
and had a glorious time. After a late prayer-meeting these 
three worthies drove home to Doncaster, with the satisfaction 
that they had done a bit of honest hard work which God 
would own and bless. 

As often as he could spare a week evening, he would preach 
and conduct revival services. Thus, oh Tuesday, December 
26th, 1837, he writes : 

'Friend Butler and I went to Ovejt-Cumberworth ; and I 
preached to them twice that night. At the first service, the 
mighty power of God was in our midst, believers were quick- 
ened and sanctified, and sinners were saved. Hallelujah for 
ever ! While this was going on, a second congregation came 
up to the doors and windows to see and hear what we had up. 
I invited them into the chapel about ten o'clock-, and preached 

In the midst of all this excitement and success it is interest- 
ing to notice how carefully he watched his own heart, and 
kept it with all diligence. His constant prayer Was that God 
would own his labours and bless him with abundant success, 



but keep liini free from pride and worldliness. This is clear 
from his own words of prayer and praise. 

4 January 7th, 1838. — Praise God, I have begun another 
year. May God help me to live this year to His honour and 
glory as I never did. I feel determined by God's help to spend 
and be spent in His service. I feel daily His blood cleanses 
me from all sin. My evidence is brighter than ever. What 
thousands there are in the Church that live without this bless- 
ing ! O my God, arouse the Church to seek after all its 
privileges. Mr. Harris says : "So long have we accustomed 
ourselves to be content with little things that we have gone 
far in disqualifying ourselves for the reception of great things." 
O my God, open mine eyes to behold all my privileges. Give 
my soul an impulse, and raise me nearer to Thy throne. I 
want a spiritual earthquake to take place in my soul every day. 
Bramwell said : "It is well for us that God is almighty. God 
can deliver us out of the greatest dangers, difficulties, trials, 
troubles, and besetments that earth and hell have within them. 
The least trial does not come before it receives a permit from 
the throne, and then God sends a reinforcement of His power 
for the protection of His children." Praise God for ever.' 

' February 9th. — I preached to a large congregation at 
Bonley. Saints and sinners came forward ; some professed 
to get liberty, others were much blessed. my God, bless 
this simple people, and enable me to labour for eternity, with 
a single eye to Thy glory. Bless mo with all the fulness of 
the Gospel — all the weight of the Gospel — all the power of the 
Gospel — and all tho glory of the Gospel, that sinners may be 
saved by tens, by hundreds, and by thousands, as in the days 
of the apostles. And in tho face of heaven, and in the name 
of tho Holy Trinity, I will give God the glory.' 

'February nth, Binbroke. — Bless God I am spared to visit 
this place again. It is now about twelve months si nee I 
preached in this town — a time never to be forgotten. Tho 
Lord displayed His saving power, and His work has gone on 
ever since. The good people met together on Friday to com- 
memorate the day on which tho Lord began to revive His work, 
and He displayed His saving power again. On the Saturday 


night we had a prayer-meeting, and it was a glorious time : 
one backslider was'healed and many were blessed. On Sunday, 
February 12th, I preached three times. This was a glorious 
day : the word came with power and with the Holy Ghost 
sent down from heaven. Souls were saved, backsliders healed, 
and believers sanctified. In the evening of this glorious day 
the penitents in the gallery of the chapel were brought into 
a pew, instead of the communion rail. A married woman 
among them soon got liberty and was made happy. Her 
husband by some means got intelligence that his wife was a 
penitent in the chapel. He came in like a devil incarnate, 
to drag her away and punish her. I was standing near when 
he seized me by the collar, but other men more powerful laid 
hold of him. His poor wife made her escape out of the chapel, 
and dared not go home that night. She went in the morning, 
but, bless God, the lion was chained. He growled hard in 
oaths and curses against her, but his wicked hands were kept 
away from her.' 

' February 25th. — I preached at Bawtry in the morning, 
and at Misson in the afternoon. In this village thirteen 
jtersons promised to begin to meet in class, and a leader was 
chosen after service in the chapel. my God, seal them to 
the day of redemption. I preached again at Bawtry at night, 
and had such a time as I shall never forget. The almighty 
power of God was upon me in preaching. The word came like 
a thunderbolt. The devil would have all his children bomb 
and shot proof ; but this day, when God opened His battery of 
conviction upon sinners, the shells burst, and their souls felt 
the fire of conviction, and they cried, "Lord, save, or I 
perish." It was a glorious time. Praise God. my God, 
keep my soul from spiritual pride. It is Thy work : Lord, 
I am Thy servant; make me just what Thou wouldst have 
me be.' 

' March 4th, Thorne. — I had a sweet time here in the morn- 
ing. At Moor Ends in the afternoon the people received the 
word with gladness, believers were blessed, sinners convicted, 
and every soul in the place felt the power of God. Eight or 
ten persons promised to begin and join the people of God. 



One professed to find pardon and peace. At Thome at night 
good was done, and I had a glorious time in preaching.' 

1 March 6th, Althorpe. — I preached to a crowded congrega- 
tion. The Lord backed His word with power ; penitents came 
forward and got into glorious liberty. The next night I 
visited them again. The Lord was in the place, and more 
good was done. We are languid in our prayers when we ought 
to be inspired. What we have expected is only our feebleness. 
There is too much oneness and sameness amongst us. We go 
to preach, we go to hear, we go to class-meeting, Ave go to 
prayer-meeting, and we expect no good. We go to work like 
an old man eighty years of age to break stones on a cold 
winter's day. Is it any wonder that we do so little 1 my 
God, set our souls on fire ; set the whole Church on fire with 
zeal and love to Thee. I am determined through grace to be 
what the world calls " crazed f " I feel as if I wanted a 
spiritual earthquake in my soul every day to blow me up into 
a more glorious region. 0, 

" Arm of the Lord, awake ! awake ! 
Thine own immortal strength put on. - ' 

Bend the iron pillars of my soul. Sink me to the lowest 
depths of humility, and raise me up to the highest privileges 
of religious experience. In one of the villages where I travel, 
a woman got her soul sanctified, and, like David, she was full 
of light and power, so that she could run through a troop or 
leap over a wall. Some of the poor "wise" members said she 
was " crazed," and persuaded the travelling preacher to call upon 
her. He did so ; but, when down on his knees in prayer with 
her, he felt what it was that made her crazed. He felt the 
mighty power of God. O how members show their false 
colours and lukewarm hearts when they say of lively souls, 
" Let them alone, they will soon cool down, they are in their 
first love," and so on ! They speak of being more settled in 
their feelings than these young enthusiasts. I would rather 
be settled in a parish workhouse for life than have such settled 
cold feelings towards my Lord.' 

4 March 13th. — I preached at Howden. On my way I rode 


my horse, and, having a small parcel before me, I let the reins 
be too slack. The horse was trotting at a good speed, when 
he stumbled and pitched on his head, bruising himself in one 
or two places, and then fell flat on his side. I might have 
been killed, but, glory to God Who giveth His angels charge 
over them that fear Him, my feet were taken out of the 
stirrups, and I escaped unhurt. If any man ever had a 
heavenly fall, I had one ; for I should not have known I had 
fallen but for my knees being dirty. Glory be to God for my 
deliverance ! At Howden I was enabled to preach with life 
and power, and we had some cheering results.' 

'March 15th. — At Luddington I had a glorious time; 
believers were quickened, and souls were saved. The chapel 
was full, and at the close of the service not a soul went out. 
All stayed the prayer-meeting.' 

'March 18th, Doncaster. — I preached in Marshgate in the 
open air. We had a prayer-meeting in the street, and sinners 
were affected and cried for mercy.' 

' March 25 th, Bintley. — Sinners are very hard at this place, 
and religion is very low. About ten of the Doncaster friends 
came with me to help me in the service. In the afternoon we 
went singing round the town. The people came to see what 
was to do, and I preached. The glory of the Lord was present. 
The devil fell like lightning from heaven. Souls were saved. 
Praise God.' 

'April 13th, Good Friday. — I preached at Bently at night. 
Ten or twelve friends came over from Doncaster, and helped 
me. The Lord was there. Souls were awakened. Many came 
forward, and the meeting was truly glorious.' 

'April 15th. — I preached at Consbro' morning and night, 
and held a love-feast in the afternoon. The love-feast was a 
good time to many souls, and many testified to having received 
sanctification. This day till near evening service I felt out 
of love with myself, and was led to cry mightily to God in 
private, and smite upon my breast, and cry, " God be merciful 
to me ! " We went into the town, sang a hymn, and I exhorted 
the people. Numbers followed us to the chapel, and I had a 
very large and attentive congregation. The word came with 


power, and I was led out as I never was before. I believe 
many went home that night wounded. Nearly all the congre- 
gation, both from gallery and body of chapel, stayed the 
prayer-meeting ; penitents came forward ; some got liberty, and 
a glorious time we had. Hallelujah to God for ever ! ' 
•** ' I feel more determined to serve God than ever. Lord, 
help me ! I feel the blood cleanses, but this is not all I want. 
I want to be filled with all the fulness of the Gospel — the love 
of a John, the courage of a Peter, and the zeal of a Paul. I 
want to have the mind that is in Christ, and almighty faith, 
that, whenever I preach, the arrows of conviction may find 
their way to sinners' hearts. Lord God Almighty, prepare 
me, furnish me with every ministerial ability, that I may be 
an ornament in Thy Church. I never shall be a shining light 
with respect to learning or eloquence, but, my God, Thou 
canst make me a burning and shiniirg light ; make me a flame 
of fire. for an earnest of the Spirit of power and of glory ! 
Kevive me every moment. Enable me to live like some im- 
mortal being let down from Thy throne. Make me a stranger 
to the fear of man, and help me to carry with me an atmos- 
phere of salvation. Lord, what wouldst Thou have me to 
do 1 Lord, Lord, lead Thy ignorant, unworthy creature, every 
breath, thought, word, feeling, action, day, night, hour, moment; 
and Thou shalt have the praise. Amen.' 

' May 23d. — I preached at Rawcliffe to a small congregation, 
and had a good time. Before I went to preach, I put faith 
in the God of promises, that souls should be saved. Glory, 
glory, glory to God! there were some real penitents. They 
came willingly to the penitent bench, and the Lord was truly 
amongst us.' 

' May 28th. — I have preached about fifteen times since the 
2y\ of May. In the Rotherham Circuit, at Swinton, the 
Lord saved souls, and sanctified believers, and the same signs 
and wonders were manifested at several places in the Doncaster, 
Epworth, Barton on Humber, and Market Kasrn Circuits. 
Praise God for ever ! His presence goes with me everywhere. 
To Him be all the glory for ever and ever ! Amen.' 

Notwithstanding the high state of Christian experience to 


which he had attained, and the marvellous and uniform success 
that attended his labours, he was strangely misunderstood and 
foully slandered and misrepresented. 

It was said he was crazy, and only fit for a lunatic asylum. 
Nobody but a madman or a crack-brained enthusiast would 
think of praying every hour of the day, and preaching as often 
as he could get anybody to hear him. These things were said 
of him by professing Christians. Hence his reference to the 
holy woman in this chapter, who was said to be ' crazed ' 
because she was sanctified, and his determination to be ' crazed ' 
in the same way. These assaults were peculiarly painful and 
annoying ; but friend iNaylor cheered him by reminding him 
that ' all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer per- 
secution;' and that when the Saviour was performing some of 
His mightiest works, the people said, ' He hath a devil, and is 
mad.' Friend Nay lor told him to take his persecution as a 
compliment. There are some men so dangerous and destructive 
to the devil's kingdom that Satan has to watch them night and 
day, and wing and wound them when he can. But there are 
others so harmless and powerless that he need not waste 
po«vder and shot over them. So he learned to bear these 
slanders meekly and patiently for the Master's sake. 

Sometimes those who had known him before his conversion 
would threaten him with physical punishment, presuming on 
the meek and gentle spirit of the Gospel. They thought they 
might defy him with impunity now, and if they ' smote him 
on the one cheek, he would turn the other also.' But a 
merciful Providence restrained them, and saved him from this 
temptation. I have heard him say that it would have been a 
terrible trial to him if any of his opponents had used physical 
force. He should have forgotten himself, and given them such 
a chastisement as they would have remembered to their dying 
day ; and perhaps he would have brought himself into condem- 

Perhaps the most common form of persecution was deliberate 
falsehood. His enemies circulated a story to the effect that he 
had committed suicide. They told the most circumstantial 
and plausible story, and were so favoured by circumstances, 


that even his own family were unable to contradict it. They 
said he had hung himself at Gainsborough in his bedroom at 
the inn where he put up on a certain day and hour named. 
The story was carried all over the district where he travelled, 
and was readily believed by those who had no love for religion. 
There were no railways, or telegraphs, at that time, and it was 
impossible to communicate with his friends at Gainsborough ; 
so the lie got a few days' start, and travelled as fast as bad 
news usually goes. But on the following Saturday he drove 
home as usual, and contradicted the wicked falsehood. 

There were many slanders that were not so easily disposed of, 
however ; for he was bitterly assailed and misrepresented both 
in his public and private life. The most outrageous falsehoods 
were uttered and repeated, and he became so familiar with them 
that he ceased to contradict them. 

But he was severely criticised for his extravagances in preach- 
ing, and for the excitement he caused at his revival services. 
His impulsive nature often carried him beyond the bounds of 
prudence, and many of his haphazard expressions were too 
strong, and needed modifying and qualifying. Yet his motives 
were always pure and his intentions right. He was asked one 
day by a friend : ' How is it so much good is done through 
you?' His reply was : ' When I go to preach, I resolve that it 
shall be heaven or hell to every man and woman in that congre- 

He was asked again : ' How is it that people are so often 
offended at you 1 ' His reply was : ' If I don't make sinners 
fall out with themselves, or fall out with me, I have failed in 
my duty.' 

He had only one idea, and that was ingrained and interwoven 
with his nature : ' I will savr men.'' He was not a mere copyist, 
but a genuine and original character. He had so much energy 
and force of character that he was bound to make a stir any- 
where. It was impossible to hide him under a bushel, or keep 
his energies within ordinary bounds. 

The reader will readily perceive that such a man was sure to 
be misunderstood. I have shown his aims and motives, and 
enabled the reader thus to form a true conception of the man. 


But those who only looked upon the outside, and saw but the 
rough, noisy, demonstrative, aggressive preacher, were sure to 
be mistaken in their judgment of him. 

I am inclined to think he cared too little for the good opinion 
of others. He was a man of one idea, and his whole soul was 
absorbed in his work. 



From 1838 to 1847, hi s evangelistic work was pursued with 
intense ardour and devotion. He attended diligently to Lis 
business, and made the most of his opportunities to improve 
the position and prospects of his family ; but whenever he 
could spare a few days, if only from Saturday to Monday, he 
spent them in preaching and revival work. 

Thus he travelled to Lincoln, Sheffield, Nottingham, Man- 
chester, and other great centres of population. In one of these 
journeys he fell in with a kind friend, who recognised his 
abilities and worth, and saw.j beneath his rough exterior a 
man of holiness and power. This friend gave him a copy of 
Murray's Grammar and Blair's Lectures on Rhetoric. He took 
the hint in the spirit in which it was given, and resolved to 
study these books carefully, and to improve his style of com- 
position. He saw that it was not enough to gather his know- 
ledge of men from behind a shop-counter and from public- 
houses and the roadside. He saw that his usefulness would 
be considerably increased if he could speak his mother tongue 
correctly, and present his thoughts in such a form that even 
educated men could understand and appreciate them. His 
bold and wild energy led him into confusion of metaphors, and 
grammatical mistakes, and incoherent sentences, that provoked 
laughter and derision. But he made a wise and profitable use 
of these books, and soon became a correct and impressive 

He thus describes a brief holiday in the summer of 1 840 : 
' I have been a missionary excursion for fourteen days with 
Brother Tonge from Gainsborough. We set off July 26th, and 


returned August 8th. Brother Tonge is a zealous man of God, 
of rare power and success ; for the Lord has blessed him with 
thousands. I preached out of doors at Bridgehill, Gains- 
borough, and then drove on to Lincoln, where I preached four 
times. God was mightily with us ; for many got into liberty, 
and several were sanctified. 

' At Langworth I preached again, and twice at Tetf ord in the 
Horncastle Circuit, where much good was done. Then we 
drove to Spilsby, and preached again, and the Lord helped me 
wonderfully. We finished our journey at Alford, where I 
preached six times in different parts of the circuit, and God 
blessed me both in body and soul. Praise Him for all the 
good received from Him, and done by Him ! 

' The enemy followed hard after me. He has sent abroad 
many flying vile reports about me ; but, bless God, they are all 
lies. With the Psalmist I will say : " The Lord is my light 
and my salvation : whom shall I fear 1 The Lord is the 
strength of my life : of whom shall I be afraid 1 " While on 
this Rock I stand, and while I lean on Him on Whom arch- 
angels lean, I will bid defiance to the world. Lord, help me. 

About this time his mother was in delicate health, and he 
preached one Sunday at Branston, an important village in the 
Lincoln Circuit. At the close of a heavy day's work he held a 
prayer-meeting as usual till nearly ten o'clock. When all was 
over, and he was about to sit down to supper with his host, his 
brother, Mr. Joseph Marsden, arrived from Doncaster with a 
message that his mother was likely to die, and he must return 
at once if he wished to see her alive. He ordered meal and 
water to be given to the horse — a valuable animal, of which he 
was very fond — and sat down to a hasty supper. After supper 
he knelt at the table, and fervently prayed that God would 
spare his mother's life till he reached home. Then he prayed 
that God would give him journeying mercies, and strengthen 
his horse for its work, as there was no time to give him a full 
meal. The Lord answered his prayers. The horse made the 
journey with ease, and his mother's life was prolonged. 

This prayer for the horse may seem strange to those who 


seldom pray ; but it is a good illustration of his views of pre- 
vailing prayer, and thoroughly characteristic of the man. He 
told the Lord all he knew and all he wanted. He believed 
that his horse had a right to God's good care and providence 
when it was doing its duty, and he did not forget to mention 
it in the hour of need. 

This horse was named ' Short/ and had been the hero of 
many a strange adventure since the night it refused to cross 
the canal bridge in the dark, and so saved his life. It could 
always be trusted to go a long day's journey, and bear a heavy 
burden, without showing signs of fatigue. It knew his habits, 
and understood his peculiarities thoroughly. Whether its 
master were riding or driving in the daytime, he would be 
reading, and it found its way in safety without his guidance. 
He could mind his book, and it would pick its way through 
busy streets or rough country lanes. When they were belated 
and travelling in the night, it was sure-footed and reliable. 
He might throw the reins on its neck, and leave himself in 
its hands, with perfect safety. It was the only horse he ever 
drove that did not come home in disgrace with bruised knees, 
or broken shafts, or some more serious accident. 

At the time of his conversion, when he consecrated all he 
had to God, he included ' Short ' in the list. Henceforth 
* Short ' was to be the Lord's horse. It was to carry him to 
his preaching appointments, and be the messenger of the 
GospeL The horse was a faithful servant for years, and by a 
good character and steady habits it earned its master's gratitude 
and affection. 

Occasionally it was in danger. Its master and his friend 
Butler had been preaching at Smeaton one night, and were 
driving home, when a tramp stopped them and wanted to ride. 
It was a lonely part of the road, and the district was then 
infested with 'footpads.' and thieves. These highway robbers 
often used violence if their victims resisted, and it was evident 
the tramp was one of a gang ; for they could hear him exchange 
signals with his confederates. But while they were parleying 
with the tramp, * Short ' bolted at such a speed that he dashed 
through the men, scattering them right and left, and leaving 


them prostrate in the road. He never stopped till he had 
safely reached Doncaster. 

On another occasion, they had been holding services at 
Blythe till nearly midnight, and were driving at a good pace 
up the hill, when ' Short ' fell, and the shock sent them flying 
over its head. It lay perfectly still without a struggle till they 
had removed the cart, when it sprang to its feet, ready to re- 
sume the journey. TThen its master found that nobody was 
injured, he thanked God for their deliverance, and at a tea-meet- 
ing next day gave a thank-offering to some charitable object to 
express his gratitude. 

During this period of his life his activity was astonishing. 
He was working hard all day, and preaching and praying 
almost all night. To use the words of friend Butler, ' he had 
never done praying.' He utilised every moment. 

In the York and Easingwold Circuits the Lord wonderfully 
owned his labours. He preached fourteen times at York during 
his visit, and held prayer-meetings each time. On the Sunday 
evening a young man who was a graduate of Dublin University 
came into the chapel, and stood by the door. He was evidently 
impressed by what he saw and heard, but the noise and excite- 
ment surprised him. During the prayer-meeting Mr. Marsden 
went and spoke to him about his soul, and persuaded him to 
go to the penitent form. After a little persuasion he went, and 
next morning he received a sense of God's favour, and called to 
thank the preacher and tell him the good news. The young 
man afterwards became an earnest and successful evangelist. 

At Wigan, in Lancashire, he was wonderfully successful 
among the colliers and cotton operatives. He visited the town 
with Mr. Greenbury for a week's mission, and met with a 
lively reception. At that time political feeling ran very high 
in the town, and it was dangerous to hold public meetings in 
the streets, for fear of a riot and serious disturbance. The 
Eoman Catholics were peculiarly bitter against the Protestants, 
and it was thought undesirable to provoke them to hostilities 
by conducting open-air services. 

They met in the old chapel for worship, and gathered a good 
congregation, and had a few penitents. But they were not 


satisfied with this slow and ordinary progress : they must make 
their mark on the town. On Monday at noon they went to a 
contractor's yard, and gathered the workmen together during 
the dinner hour for worship. They knelt among the bricks 
and timber, and prayed so touchingly and fervently for these 
rough workmen that some of them were moved to tears. Then 
Mr. Marsden announced that he would preach at the 'big lamp' 
in the market-place at seven o'clock, and asked the workmen 
to come and protect him from assault, and hear him preach. 
As soon as it became known that he intended to preach in the 
market-place, a number of rough Irishmen declared that they 
would take his life rather than he should preach there. Un- 
deterred by threats of violence, he took his stand by the ' big 
lamp' at the appointed hour, and his friends from the con- 
tractor's yard formed his body-guard and surrounded him on 
every side. They sang, and he prayed; but as soon as he 
began to preach, a mob of Irishmen attempted to storm the 
position and drag him into their midst. But they were met 
with cries of < Stand back,' ' Touch him if you dare,' « We'll 
defend him.' Regardless of these warnings, the Irishmen came 
on to the attack ; but his body-guard repelled the attack, and 
kept the disturbers at bay till the sermon was ended. Then 
they formed in procession, and, followed by an immense crowd, 
marched to the chapel and crowded it. The service was a 
grand success. The Spirit of God arrested several of his 
opponents, and many of his friends were converted. 

The next night he went again to conduct a service in the 
market-place, and there was an enormous crowd. A champion 
fighter was put up by the mob to interrupt the service and beat 
the preacher. In the crowd w r ere a number of wrestlers, prize- 
fighters, and roughs, who had come for the purpose of making 
a disturbance and putting down street-preaching. 

Mr. Greenbury spoke first. He told them how he had once 
been as wild and rough as any of them. He had been a 
wrestler and prize-fighter, and knew all their secrets ; and if 
they had challenged him some years ago, he w r ould have 
accepted their challenge, and would have made some of them 
very sorry for their insolence. Then he told how a life of 


brutality and drunkenness degraded him and robbed him of his 
manhood. Even when his poor widowed mother lay on her 
deathbed, he came home drunk one night with a donkey across 
his shoulders, and threw it on the bed, saying, ' Here, mother ; 
the devil has come to fetch you.' But the grace of God had 
changed him from a lion to a lamb, and what that grace could 
do for him it could do for every sinner in Wigan. 

By this time he had gained the ears of the multitude, and 
the majority were in favour of allowing the service to proceed. 
But the champion fighter became noisy and demonstrative when 
he saw things taking a peaceful turn. He assailed Mr. Marsden 
with oaths and curses, and challenged him to a personal en- 
counter. Mr. Marsden walked up to him, put his arm round 
his neck, looked steadily into his eyes, and said : ' The Lord 
bless thee, lad ! Thou little know'st what thou art saying. If 
it were not for the grace of God, I might have been tempted to 
beat thee within an inch of thy life. I dare let thee tie my 
right hand behind my back, and I can keep thee at arm's length 
with my left hand. Thou art challenging a man that has put 
thy betters up a chimney or behind a fire many a time.' Then 
lie began to pray with such earnestness and pathos that the 
man was moved to tears. 

When they adjourned to the chapel, he still retained his hold 
of the champion, and never let him go till he had marched him 
to the penitent form, and induced him to cry for mercy. There 
was a very large crowd, mainly composed of the roughest 
characters from the lowest parts of the town ; but they followed 
him to the chapel with perfect docility, and many of them were 
that night converted. 

These scenes were repeated night after night, till scores of 
the very worst men and women were gathered round the com- 
munion rail in penitence and prayer. Some of these afterwards 
became chosen witnesses for the truth, and remarkable for their 
piety and usefulness. Many of them lived holy lives, and died 
triumphant deaths ; but some are alive to this day. 

The revival that commenced during his first visit laid the 
foundation of some of the branch schools and mission rooms in 
other parts of the town. He became so popular in Wigan 


that he was invited every year to spend a week among his 
spiritual children, and lead them on to new fields of conquest. 

Such scenes of excitement and opposition always put him on 
his mettle. He never preached more powerfully, nor prayed 
more earnestly, than when he was opposed and resisted. Every 
act and word betrayed his fixed determination to save men. 

Previous to his open-air services at Wigan, he had some stir- 
ring times with the members of Society there. The local 
preachers, leaders, and members had fallen into a formal, life- 
less, and low spiritual condition. They were not in fighting 
trim, and he could neither get them to pray in public at the 
prayer-meeting, nor to go out into the streets to gather in the 
people, nor co-operate with him in any way. 

He managed to get them together by a free tea-meeting, and 
gave them a stirring address on ' Holiness,' and urged them 
to seek entire sanctification. There was no response to his 
appeal ; so they sang a verse or two, and he called on some of 
them to pray. They were all dumb, so he prayed till he 
frightened some of them. Then for about ten minutes he 
gave them a few of the strongest home-truths they had ever 
heard. He told them they had a name to live, but they were 
dead ; that sinners were perishing around them, and they laid 
it not to heart ; that God had set them as watchmen, but they 
were dumb dogs every one of them ; that if they proved 
unfaithful to their privileges and duties, God would raise up 
another Church in their place ; that they could not do without 
God Almighty for a moment, but He was independent of their 
cold, selfish, formal services always. In language more mas- 
culine and forcible than polite, he gave them such a lesson as 
they never forgot. Old members came again to the penitent 
form, seeking pardon and power ; and many of them were 
sanctified. Old feuds were forgotten, old hatchets were buried, 
old offences were forgiven, and a distracted, torn, and scattered 
Church was melted and moulded together into one compact 
united body. 

Then the power of Pentecost came down. They were ready 
to pray, and toil, and work, and go with him anywhere, and 
do anything for the Master. 



This was the beginning of the great revival at Wigan ; I 
enter so fully into* the particulars of this case, because it is a 
fair sample of what he did elsewhere. It is no wonder there- 
fore that invitations came to him from all quarters. 

If a Church had received a baptism of the Spirit, and 
wanted a champion to go into the slums and alleys and public- 
houses to rescue the perishing, they sent for him. They knew 
he would dare and do what other men could not do. He 
would venture into dens of infamy and haunts of vice, where 
no policeman dared go alone, and he would bring out from 
these unlikely places some penitent sinners, and lead them to 
a better life. 

If a Church had been toiling long, and had caught nothing, 
they would put the Gospel net into his experienced hands. 
A Sunday-school teacher at Nottingham had spent weeks 
and months working for the conversion of his class. He had 
ten or a dozen youths, whose future depended on the choice 
they were about to make ; but he was powerless to influence 
them. One Sunday evening they walked to New Lenton to 
hear Mr. Marsden preach. He saw them, and prayed for 
them, and mentally resolved that not one of them should 
escape. He preached a powerful sermon, and began the 
prayer-meeting before anybody had the chance of leaving the 
chapel. Then he walked up to these young men, and led 
them one by one to the penitent form. They were every one 
converted at that service. 

Sometimes he was invited to arouse sleeping Churches and 
bring to life the dead. Then he preached to the members, 
and insisted on holiness and unity. 

Thus the claims of the Churches oppressed him. He was 
willing to serve them, but they made such demands on his 
time that his business had to suffer. It was a serious financial 
burden to him, and he was for some time in doubt as to what 
he ought to do. Should he attend to his own business, and 
make a fortune ? or should he let his business decline, and 
give himself entirely to evangelistic work ? He shall answer 
the question for himself. 

' Doncaster, May nth, 1846. Monday morning. — I am 


happy — very happy in the love of God. Of late my soul has 
been prospering. • Perhaps I never felt it so well with me as I 
have done for some weeks past. 

'A circumstance that has occupied my mind for twenty 
months past has been a hinderance to me and a burden to my 
soul, and has interfered with my labours also. About a month 
ago, the Lord enabled me to strike a surrender, and ever since 
it has been better with me. I feel relieved of a burden, and 
the pressure is gone. 

' In future, may the Lord guide me in every thought, word, 
and action. I never felt my heart so warm in God's cause as I 
do now. I long to preach the Gospel to poor sinners every day. 

" Happy, if with my latest breath 
I may but gasp His name ; 
Preach Him to all, and cry in death, 
' Behold, behold the Lamb ! ' " 

1 If the Lord erer puts me in such a position in life that I can 
give up business, I promise this day by His help that I will lay 
down the world, and take up His Gospel, and preach it till 

' Lord, help me. Thou knowest the weakness of man, and 
covenants are of no avail without Divine aid. Lord, make me 
faithful to Thy cause in every calling in life.' 

After making this solemn covenant with God, he reviews 
very briefly the scenes of his labour during the past year. He 

' The Lord has wonderfully owned my labours. Hundreds 
have been converted in Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Lincoln- 
shire, and Lancashire. At Wigan we had a very glorious time, 
and a great number found salvation. They came up to the 
communion rail by dozens. At Skelmanthorpe many came 
up for pardon and sanctification, and the work was glorious. 
I visited Southwell, Notts, with an intention to preach two 
days ; but the work breaking out gloriously prolonged my visit 
for the week. The Society had been torn in pieces by dissen- 
sion and strife, and they had had a special meeting of leaders, 
preachers, and the chairman of the District, to consider the 


ease ; but all to no purpose. The Lord by fire melted out the 
cast metal, and pufified and remodelled the Society, which was 
nearly doubled in a short time. The work was exceedingly 
glorious, for many were converted.' 

He was now recognised as a successful preacher and evange- 
list, and was fully employed in the work. 

Let us pause to consider some of his plans and methods, 
before we resume the personal narrative. 



In his evangelistic work he was continually receiving invitations 
from new friends in strange places, and he always tried to 
adapt himself to the special needs of the place. 

If he accepted an invitation of this kind, he always impressed 
on the leaders and members of the Society the necessity of 
personal consecration to Christ, and of united and zealous 
co-operation with him in his work. Then he took a stroll 
through the town or village, making good use of his eyes and 
ears, and forming his own impressions of the place and of the 
people. He regarded the place as a stronghold of the devil, 
well fortified and watched by the enemy of souls ; and in the 
Lord's name he was about to attack it. But, like a wise 
general, he would find out the strength and weakness of the 
enemy, and ascertain how he had disposed of his forces, and 
decide how he could most successfully attack and overthrow 

I have a vivid recollection of some of his reconnoitring 
expeditions that were remarkably successful. 

Every town and village has some particular spot which by 
custom and habit comes to be the 'seat of the scornful.' It 
may be the corner of a public-house, or some particular part 
of the market-place, or the cross-roads in a village, or any spot 
Avhere people can meet to discuss the news of the day or 
retail the latest gossip. 

Usually half # a dozen lazy fellows sit on their heels, with 
their backs against the wall, smoking and watching the passers- 
by. A few more loiter about in groups with their hands 
buried deeply in their pockets, discussing a pigeon-flying match 


or a dog race. Their conversation is so filthy and their 
behaviour so rude, that respectable people pass on the opposite 
side of the street. These men have no love for the Gospel, 
and are ever ready to express their contempt for the clergy and 
ministers of all denominations. 

He always sought out these men, and paid them a visit. 
His position as a local preacher often enabled him to overcome 
their objections to a professional ministry. I have heard them 
say, ' Yon chap isn't one of your white-necktie chaps. He 
does not think hissel' too proud to talk to us. I'll go and 
hearken what he has to say.' 

On one occasion, one of these men was peculiarly severe with 
Methodism. He denounced ' the penny-a-week and shilling-a- 
quarter folks ' with much warmth. ' You seem to know a good 
deal about those Methodists,' said Mr. Marsden ; ' you might 
have been one of them vears ago.' A loud laugh from the 
bystanders, and a savage oath from the scorner, showed that 
he was right, and the man was a backslider. So he followed 
up his advantage by saying : 

' And what have you gained by leaving the Methodists ? 
Yqji have spent more than a penny a week and a shilling a 
quarter at the public-house. Do you find the devil's service 
any better than the service of the Lord Jesus Christ ? If you 
were a sodierl of Queen Victoria, you would wear her livery, 
and people would know it by the clothes you wear. But 
the "devil's own" wear his livery in their faces. You may 
know them sometimes by their rags, and dirt, and poverty; 
but yon can always tell them by their faces. I would not 
wear your face for five hundred a year ! Get back again to the 
Methodists, and when the Lord Jesus Christ gives you a new 
heart, you may have your portrait taken, for you will have a 
face worth looking at.' 

By this time a small crowd of passers by had assembled to 
witness the discomfiture of the scorner, and he slunk away. 
I have reason to believe that this visit to the camp of the 
enemy was productive of lasting good to some who had been 
in the habit of 'sitting in the seat of the scornful.' 

A favourite plan of getting into conversation with the people 


was to walk up to a stranger, and ask if he could tell which 
house the Lord Jesus Christ lived in. Of course he received 
some curious answers to such a strange question, but he was 
satisfied if he could only set people thinking. 

A young wife was nursing her baby at the door, when he 
walked up to her and said : ' Does the Lord Jesus Christ live 
here ? ' 

She smiled and said, ' I hope so. ' 

Looking at the ring on her finger, he said : ' You are 
married : does your husband live here ? ' 

She answered promptly, ' Yes.' 

He replied : ' You don't hope so, you know it. And if the 
Lord Jesus Christ lived here, you would know it. He would 
not put a ring round your finger, but He would put His love 
in your heart, and make you so happy that life would be one 
sweet song. You will know it when He comes to live with 

A few doors further he met a crabbed, cynical, old cobbler 
with the question : ' Does the Lord Jesus Christ live here ? ' 

A merry twinkle was in his eye as he said : ' I should think 
not. He would be a fool if He did ; and so would anybody 
else that had the chance of getting out of this place and did 
not go. I tell ye, Mister, they are a bad lot round here. I 
should think the devil lives in every house in this row.' 

' Well, but where does the Lord Jesus Christ live ? ' inquired 
Mr. Marsden. 

' I expect He lives in heaven,' said the cobbler ; ' and if I 
should ever be lucky enough to get there, I should have sense 
enough to stop. You don't think I would want to come back 
again, do you ? and I don't think He would.' 

' Eh, my friend ! but this would be a sorry world for you 
and me if the Lord Jesus Christ did not live in it. I should 
want to be going quickly from it, if He were to leave it.' 

Then followed a direct personal appeal to the old cobbler, 
to open his heart and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as his 
Guest and Saviour. He knelt down beside the cobbler's stall, 
and prayed that the sunshine of God's favour might abide in 
that house. 


A few doors further he repeated the question to a respec- 
table-looking old Ionian: 'Which of these houses does the 
Lord Jesus Christ live in 1 ' 

' You had better ask at number four. If He lives anywhere 
in this row, I think it will be at old Molly's. It's about the 
poorest house in this street, but it's about the happiest.' 

So he went to number four, and without knocking opened 
the door and walked in. 'Does the Lord Jesus Christ live 
here, Molly ? ' he asked. 

' Ay, bless the Lord, He does ; and if you are one of His 
childer, come in and sit you down, and let's have a bit of 
talk with you,' she replied. 

'How long has the Lord Jesus Christ lived with you, 


' Above fifty years. This isn't a very grand house for Him ; 
but, as poor as it is, He says He'll never leave me nor forsake 
me, and I'll take good care I don't leave nor forsake Him.' 

He walked across the floor, helped himself to a chair, and 
sat listening to her simple story. 

' You see I'm a bit lame. I were coming home from t'chapel 
one dark neet in my pattens, when t'wind blew t'candle out 
in my lantern, and I had to grope my way in darkness. Some- 
body had a load of coals in front of their door, and I fell over 
them and could not get up. I had to be carried home and 
put to bed. When t'doctor came, he said it were a very bad 
job, for I had broken my leg. I said, " Bless the Lord, it 
would 'a been a deal worse if I had broken my neck." You 
know, when old folks break their bones, it takes a long time 
to get them right again.' 

After this apology for allowing him to help himself to a 
chair, they plunged into a brief conversation about the love 
of God to each of them. She told him how she could bless 
the Lord at all times, and His praise was continually in her 
mouth. And he said, ' Hallelujah ! ' and she said, ' Bless the 
Lord ! ' Then he knelt on that humble cottage hearth, and 
prayed that God's richest blessings might rest on poor old 
Molly ; and when he went away, her pocket was a little 
heavier, and his was a little lighter. 


In one of the lowest parts of the town was a row of wretched 
cottages called ' the Rookery.' He was coming through the 
street with a newspaper in his hand, when a rough-looking 
woman shouted after him : ' You are a parson, and parsons 
should not read newspapers.' He turned back, and found that 
the speaker was a middle-aged woman, standing washing at her 
door, with a short black pipe in her mouth ; her children were 
ragged and dirty, and her home was lost in dirt and disorder. 
He said : ' I am compelled to read the newspapers to see what 
the devil is doing in the House of Commons, and the House 
of Lords, and all over the country. How can I defeat him if 
I don't know what he is doing 1 ' 

' You are always talking about the devil,' she answered ; 
' you might know a deal about him.' 

' I ought to know a great deal,' he replied ; ' for he used to 
be my master, and I served him faithfully for a good many 
years. But I quarrelled with him, and left his service, and 
now I am serving the Lord Jesus Christ. Eh ! if you would 
only join His service, you would find such a difference as you 
little imagine. He would wash your heart — not in that dolly- 
tub, but in His precious blood, and make it pure clean. Come 
and join us to-night at the service, and give your heart to God.' 

Just then a virago from a neighbouring house came rushing 
into the street, flourishing a wet mop, and cursing the preacher, 
and abusing the woman for talking with him. This increased 
the small crowd of dirty ungainly women and ragged children 
who had assembled to hear the contention. The new-comer 
was a tall, gaunt, masculine woman, with a dirty face and hair 
unkempt, and peculiarly offensive with her tongue. As soon 
as he got a chance of putting in a word, he asked the crowd 
if that woman's husband had not gone away and left her. 
Somebody told him that she had been deserted for a long time. 

' I thought so,' he replied ; ' no sane man could live with 
such a woman as that. Those fierce eyes and frowning features 
are signs hung outside to show what is within. I would not 
wear such a face as that for a thousand a year. It is time 
somebody came to preach the Gospel in this Rookery.' 

By this time the virago had effected her escape from his 


raking fire of home truths : so he distributed a few tracts, and 
gave a few invitations, about which he will hear again when 
the secrets of all hearts are made known. 

He entered into conversation with the most notorious sceptic 
in the village. The man was busy in his garden, and was 
very proud of his success as a gardener. They talked about 
the properties of various kinds of soil, the peculiarities of 
the plants and flowers, and the mysteries of pruning, graft- 
ing, and inoculation, till the sceptic was wonderfully interested. 
Then Mr. Marsden spoke of the human mind and heart, 
and the fertilising, life-giving power of the Gospel, and the 
mysteries of the new birth and the plan of salvation. The 
sceptic was absorbed in the study of religious truth before he 
knew what he was doing, and showed his admiration for the 
preacher by attending every succeeding service he conducted. 
In speaking to me of this incident some time after, he said : 
' I never saw such a man. He was a walking book on botany 
and gardening, and he swindled me into listening to his 
sermons as no man ever did.' 

On another occasion, as he was reconnoitring, he met a 
poverty-stricken youth driving a donkey and cart, and earning 
a precarious living by carrying coals. He stopped him in the 
street, and told him the Lord Jesus Christ had something 
better for him to do than drive a donkey all his life. He 
briefly explained the plan of salvation to him, and told him to 
treat his donkey very kindly, and when his work was done at 
night he must come to chapel. The boy came, and that night 
he was converted. Soon afterwards he sold his donkey and 
cart, and started in business on his own account. The Lord 
prospered him, and he made a fortune, and used it wisely. 
He owes all he has in this world, under God's blessing, to that 
wayside chat with Mr. Marsden. 

Often in his visits to the homes of the poor he found 
wretched families who were not fit to be trusted with money. 
If he relieved them in that way, they would spend it in gin or 
beer ; so he would go to the nearest grocer's shop and buy a 
loaf and some butter, or cheese, or bacon. Then he would 
come back with his parcel under his arm, and make them all 


sit round the table and eat it. As they gathered to this simple 
feast, he would kneel down and pray for them. Then he would 
give them a cordial invitation to his services, and go away, 
leaving them to enjoy their food in peace. 

At Accrington, in Lancashire, he was about to conduct a 
series of services, when he heard that a grand ball was to be 
held at one of the principal hotels in honour of a lady and 
gentleman who had been newly married. He was afraid that 
the excitement attending this ball would interfere with the 
success of his first service : so he said : * I will go to the ball, 
if some of you will accompany me.' They went with him, and 
he marched up to the pianist during one of the intervals in the 
dancing and said, ' Will you play a tune for me ? ' He agreed 
to do so ; and while the rest were gazing in blank astonishment, 
he gave out a suitable hymn, and he and his friends sang it. 
He then gave an address to the newly married pair, showing 
them the true way of happiness for time and eternity. His 
manner was so gentlemanly and courteous that the company 
listened with respect, and knelt down with him in prayer. He 
prayed till the Spirit of God touched their consciences, and 
many of them were in tears ; and when he concluded, he 
invited them all to his service at the chapel. Many of them 
accepted his invitation, and several of them found the Saviour 
and became members of the Church. 

On another occasion, when he was in a Lincolnshire village, 
he heard that a merry-making was taking place in the large 
room of a public-house. He went alone among the guests, and 
said to the fiddlers : ' I suppose he that pays the piper may be 
allowed to choose the tune 1 ' They agreed ; so he paid them 
to play a tune that he chose, while he sang two or three verses 
of a hymn. Then he wished the newly-married pair much 
happiness, and urged them to begin their wedded life by giving 
their hearts to God. After a short speech, full of wise and 
weighty words, he knelt down and prayed with them till there 
was not one in the room who did not feel the influence of the 
Spirit accompanying his prayer. 

He visited one of the large towns in the West Riding of 
Yorkshire during the feast week. On his way to chapel on 


the Sunday morning he found a stream of people going in the 
direction of a certain public-house. He went with them, and 
found that a man was roasting an ox in the yard and charging 
threepence each admission for those who wished to see it. 
The ox was to be eaten at noon, and there would be a wild 
carnival, with drunkenness and sin. He went up to the man 
and reminded him that it was the Sabbath-day, and that he 
was breaking the laws of God and tempting others to commit 
sin. The man resented his interference ; so he left him with 
this message : ' "Well, do as you like, and take the consequences. 
You are the high priest of the devil ; and while you are sinning, 
I will go to the chapel and pray for you.' He prayed for this 
man publicly, and called him ' the high priest of the devil ; ' 
and when he went to preach at the same town again some 
time afterwards, he found that his prayers were answered and 
the man had been converted. 

Thus he mingled among the people, and became intimate 
with them, and studied their habits and modes of thought, and 
used all the hints and information he gathered to help him in 
his work and increase his success. He reconnoitred both in 
tile camp of the enemy and among the soldiers of Christ. By 
his ready wit, and fluent tongue, and generous hand, and 
kindly, genial spirit, he got the people to attend his services 
and take an interest in his work. 

It would be a wonder if any man failed to secure a congre- 
gation, who worked with such ability and tact and skill and 



One Sunday morning, while he was staying at my house, we 
left home together about ten o'clock, and started on our way to 
chapel. He slipped his arm in mine, and as we had plent}^ of 
time we walked slowly along, chatting as we went. He carried 
a few tracts and leaflets in his pocket, and spoke to every person 
he met, and invited them to the service. 

He met a group of young men evidently bent on Sabbath- 
breaking, and very kindly invited them to chapel. As they 
declined to go, he warned them of their folly and sin, and told 
them they would find the way of transgressors very hard. 
Then he gave them a text of Scripture each, and asked them 
to commit it to memory. 

He had a cheery word and a kindly invitation for everybod}', 
as he distributed his tracts and leaflets and texts of Scripture. 

Suddenly, without a word to me about his intentions, he 
withdrew his arm from mine, and abruptly turned down a 
narrow passage almost blocked up by waggons and carts and 
farming implements; but he found his way easily across a 
back-yard, and entered a cottage. I had passed the place 
hundreds of times, but had never noticed the quaint old house, 
with its leaden diamond-shaped window frames and its nicely 
sanded floor. It was in such a quiet nook that I was surprised 
he could find it ; and as he had left me so abruptly, I followed 
him to learn the object of his vi^it. 

It proved to be a ' hush shop,' where ale was sold without 
a licence and during the. hours of Sunday-closing. About a 
dozen men were seated round a long table, smoking and drink- 
in;-;. He marched boldly up to the end of the table near the 


door, and, with his heavy walking-stick in his hand, said in a 
commanding voice : # ' Come with me to the Wesleyan chapel ; 
my Master has sent me to call you to His service.' Then he 
paused, and waited for a reply ; but, as no one spoke, down came 
his walking-stick on the table, and made the mugs and glasses 
dance again. ' Down on your knees, every one of you,' said he. 
Still they moved not ; so he began to pray after this fashion : 

' Lord, I have called them, but they will not obey. As they 
will not come to Thee, do Thou in mercy visit them.' Then, 
putting his stick on the man's shoulder nearest him, he said, 
' Lord, save this poor drunkard. Some of these days he will 
fall under the horses' feet and be crushed to death under the 
cart wheels, and will find himself in hell. Nothing but Thy 
great mercy can save him from a drunkard's grave. Lord, save 
him now ! ' 

This man was the village carrier, and often his horses had 
found their way home from a neighbouring town to their own 
stable door, and left him drunk and asleep by the roadside. 
Often he had fallen asleep among the parcels in the cart, and 
it was a work of considerable difficulty to drag his helpless 
form into the house. As this extraordinary prayer was being 
offered, he glanced at the door, and would have given his last 
sixpence if he could have escaped; but Mr. Marsden's bulky 
form blocked the doorway. He heaved a sigh of relief when 
the stick moved from his shoulders to the next man. 

The prayer for the next man was to this effect : ' Great God, 
save this swearing man ! He takes Thy name in vain ; he can- 
not talk without swearing ; every other word is an oath ; he is 
sinking down to hell as fast as time can carry him. Save him, 
Lord ! ' The man seemed thunderstruck and eonfounded. He 
moved uneasily and cast furtive glances round on his com- 
panions, and then at the door. It was evident the preacher 
had sketched his character to the life ; for some of his com- 
panions nodded their assent and smiled, while the victim him- 
self alternately blushed and turned pale, as this terrible revela- 
tion was made. 

The stick was moved to the third man's shoulders, and there 
came a prayer : ' Lord, save this poor gaol-bird ! He has been 


hunted like a partridge for his sins ! He has been a poacher 
and a thief, but Thou canst save him. Lord, seek him and 
save him now ! ' This man was the most notorious gaol-bird 
in the village. He had been out of prison long enough to 
allow his hair to grow, so there was nothing remarkable in his 
dress and appearance. But he was well known as a poacher 
and a thief, and was constantly under the surveillance of the 
police. His face was livid with rage, but he was so taken by 
surprise that he knew not how to act ; so he resigned himself 
to his fate, doubtless consoling himself with the thought that 
he was getting no more than his share ; for the preacher was 
dealing out his denunciations with the utmost impartiality. 

The fourth was a young man of sallow complexion and shabby- 
genteel appearance ; and when the stick reached his shoulder, 
he trembled visibly. * Lord, have mercy on this young prodigal ! 
He has left a pious home, and godly parents, and kind friends ; 
and here he is reaping the wages of sin. He has lost his 
character, and his peace of mind, and his best friends, and soon 
he will lose all chance of heaven. Save him ! Save him!' cried 
the preacher. 

There was a shudder and a" groan from the victim, that con- 
firmed the truth of the preacher's words ; and his comrades 
cast glances of mingled astonishment and approval of the 
preacher's conduct. 

Still the stick went round the table, resting on each man's 
shoulder in order; and the preacher gibbeted each man's 
besetting sin, and sketched his character to the life. How he 
gained his information about the place, and "how he knew the 
men, are mysteries that I have never been able to solve. 
Certainly I never told him, and I do not know who had any 
opportunity of doing so. 

There was no escape for the men. They were caught red- 
handed, breaking the law in drinking on unlicensed premises, 
and during prohibited hours. The preacher did not give any 
of them the chance to escape ; for he looked each man steadily 
in the eyes, and prayed with his own eyes open. He watched 
every movement, and noted every sigh and glance and groan, 
as though he read the secrets of their hearts. 


"When he had finished this strange service, he resumed his 
journey to the chapel, as though nothing had happened. He 
had been keeping his congregation waiting about ten minutes 
beyond the usual time ; but in his opening prayer he pleaded 
eloquently for the drunken revellers who were at that moment 
desecrating the Sabbath. 

I am not aware that he told anybody where he had been or 
what he had been doing. The circumstances of his visit to the 
hush shop were so peculiar that the men could not keep their 
own counsel. They told their friends about this extraordinary 
preacher, and it was matter of common conversation for the 
rest of the day. It is no wonder therefore that the police 
were making very diligent inquiries about the house before the 
night was over. 

The drunkards blamed me for revealing their hiding-place 
to the preacher, and furnishing him with information as to their 
histories, and peculiarities, and habits ; and they would not 
believe me when I assured them I had never said a word to 
him on the subject. I was as much amazed as any of them at 
the accuracy, power, and pathos of his prayers. If he had 
known them all his life, he could not have described them 
more perfectly. 

The men were so annoyed at this exposure, and the amuse- 
ment it caused the general public, that they were anxious to 
vent their indignation upon him by interrupting his services. 
But though they were loud in talk, and collectively brave 
enough to suggest severe measures against him, they were 
individually afraid of him. They had had such revelations from 
him as gave them a wholesome dread of his tongue. They 
would think twice before any of them encountered him a^ain. 

On the following evening they were sitting smoking and 
drinking in the ' snug ' of a well-known public-house, and 
discussing their adventures at the hush shop on the Sunday, 
when he appeared opposite the window, and commenced an 
open-air service with a few of his friends. A notorious 
character, who had not been at the hush shop, was deputed to 
attack him publicly, while they gave him their countenance 
and support. The man began by interrupting the service, 


asking questions of an infidel character, ridiculing religion, 
and reviling the Methodists. He was met by two or three 
staggering truths that fairly knocked his self-confidence out 
of him; and then he lost his temper and made use of the 
vilest language. Mr. Marsden said : ' Friends, let us pray 
for this poor fellow. Lord, have mercy on this bad husband ! 
He has broken one woman's heart, and almost killed another. 
He is not fit for any decent woman to live with } and now he 
comes forth as the champion of infidelity and sin. Lord, 
save this " frog of the devil," this bad husband, this wicked 
man.' But before the prayer was ended the objector found 
the place too hot for him and prudently departed. I did not 
know till some time afterwards that he had worried his first 
wife to death by his wickedness, and was divorced from his 
second wife ; but these facts lend additional importance to 
that remarkable prayer. I afterwards asked Mr. Marsden why 
he called the man a ' frog of the devil ; ' and he referred me to 
Rev. xvi. 13 for an explanation, though he added that the 
passage was the inspiration of the moment and exactly suited 
the case. 

On the following evening the drunkards had some difficulty 
in finding another champion. As we were singing in the 
street, they were drinking in an adjoining public-house. One 
of the ringleaders said to an impulsive, reckless young fellow 
in the room : ' Tom, tha dare not go an hearken to yon felly 
praychin. If tha does, tha'll get converted ! ' Tom said : ' If 
tha'll pay for a gallon o' ale, I'll go.' The ale was paid for, 
and consumed by the company, and after our preliminary 
service in the street was over he followed us to chapel. 
He took a back-seat under the gallery near the door, intend- 
ing to keep up a running fire of opposition as long as he 
prudently could, and then retreat. But the preacher spied 
him, and I fancy he recognised him as one of his friends from 
the * hush shop ; ' for he soon brought him prominently before 
the congregation in his prayers after this fashion : 

' Lord, save that young man by the door. He is a 
gambler and spendthrift, and will soon drift away to a 



drunkard's hell, if Thy hand does not save him to-night. He 
promised his sainted father he would meet him in glory ; and 
he promised his pious mother that he would follow her to 
heaven. But he has forgotten his promises, and is like the 
prodigal, far from home and peace.' 

So the life and character of poor Tom were sketched in that 
prayer, till the arrow of conviction was driven deeply into his 
soul. He fairly roared for mercy, and two or three of his com- 
panions followed his example. They spoiled an admirable 
sermon that night, but they gave us a most successful prayer- 

Among those who followed us to the chapel were a number 
of navvies. They had been attracted by the commotion and 
uproar in the street, and doubtless expected some excitement 
at the service. They had more than they expected, for the 
power of God came like a second Pentecost, and they began to 
cry for mercy. One of them, a rough, brutal fellow, who was 
seldom sober, and who seldom spoke without oaths and curses, 
looked up into the preacher's face, and with tears in his eyes 
said, ' Master, pray for me.' 
*' No,' said he, ' pray for yourself.' 
' I can't,' said the poor penitent. 
' But you must,' said the preacher. 
' What must I say ? ' he asked. 

' Tell the Lord how bad you have been,' was the answer. 
<0 Lord, I have been a bonny' — and then he used some 
words more forcible than polite ; but they were the best words 
in his vocabulary to express his sincere penitence and deep 

He was soundly converted, and joined Tom and several of his 
old companions in Christian fellowship and evangelistic work. 

The ' hush shop ' was closed, and the public-house lost some 
of its old supporters; for they became total abstainers and 
consistent members of Society. 

Two or three new Society classes were formed, and con- 
siderable additions were made to the other classes, as the 
results of this raid. 


There was a genuine revival of religion throughout the 
place, and all churches and congregations caught the infection. 
To use the words of a poor old woman at a love-feast after- 
wards : ' The Lord had been makkin' new uns, un mending 
t'owd uns.' 



My adventures at the hush shop set me thinking. I had seen 
and heard a great deal about evangelistic work, but I had never 
seen such a display of intuitive knowledge as Mr. Marsden 
seemed to possess. 

But I had other opportunities of observing this marvellous 
power in connection with a children's service in our school- 

He began by asking a few simple questions about their play- 
things, and toys, and games at school ; and rewarded each 
child that answered him intelligently with a piece of butter- 
-scotch or a small coin. 

He pictured the boys at play with their marbles, and the 
girls with their skipping-ropes. Then he pictured them at 
school, working their sums ; and showed how easy it was to 
cheat and deceive. He brought home to them gradually the 
truth that all have sinned and need a Saviour. 

Having reached this point and carried his audience with him, 
he soon taught them that Christ was willing and waiting to 
save sinners. And ere long the butter-scotch, and the talk 
about marbles and shuttlecock and home lessons, gave place 
to the tear of penitence and the cry for mercy. He spoke with 
such tenderness and pathos that all hearts were moved and 
teachers and scholars began individually to pray. 

He called on me to pray, and set me to work amono- the 
penitents. As he moved about the schoolroom, he seemed to 
know the secret thoughts of every heart. 

Taking a boy about thirteen years of age by the hand, he 
led him to the penitent form, saying as he went : ' Lord bless 


this fatherless lad ! His father was a faithful servant of Thine, 
but Thou hast taken him to heaven, and left this lad in charge 
of his widowed mother. He wants to follow his father's 
example, and find his way to glory. Lord, save him. Save 
him now ! ' 

Putting his hand on a young girl's head, he said : ' Lord, 
save this dear girl ! She has a drunken father and a wretched 
home. Her mother is gone home to heaven long ago, and she 
is left to poverty and hardship. God, visit their home, and 
save the drunken father and the poor child, for Christ's sake. 

And so he went through the school, describing the characters, 
circumstances, and surroundings of the children so accurately 
that they regarded him with almost superstitious awe and 

After the service we had a walk and a long conversation 
together. I questioned him very minutely and closely about 
his remarkable utterances at the children's service. I said, 
1 How did you know that boy's father was dead 1 or that his 
mother was living 1 or that his father was a godly man ? How 
did you know that girl had a drunken father? or that her 
mother was dead? or that she had a miserable home?' He 
smiled at my cross-examination and hesitated to reply. But 
I was resolute and would have an answer. At first he put me 
off by asking if the statements he had made were true, and I 
assured him that he had not made a single mistake, as I knew 
their family histories thoroughly. He assured me that he had 
made no private inquiries from any one about the children, but 
all he had said had been from impressions made upon his mind 
at the time by the Spirit of God. Then he told me that the 
intuitive knowledge he had displayed was the same power that 
existed in the prophets of the old dispensation, but to a less 
degree. He could not fully explain it, and often he was at a 
loss to harmonise it with his own experience; and whenever 
my questions became inconveniently close, he shut me up by 
reminding me that 'the secret of the Lord is with them that 
fear Him.' 

In answer to one of my questions he stated that when ho 


was in business, a customer one day came into his shop, and 
paid his account And gave a large order for new goods. Some- 
thing seemed to say to him at the time : ' This man will never 
pay you for these goods.' He said to himself : ' The man has 
been a good customer to me, and always has paid me hitherto. 
I cannot find any good reason for doubting his honesty now, 
and I shall be obliged to trust him once more.' The goods 
were delivered, and a few weeks afterwards the man fled to 
America, taking with him all he could turn into cash, and 
leaving no assets behind. The goods were never paid for, and 
Mr. Marsden's intuitive knowledge in this case did not save 
him from a serious financial loss. 

During our conversation he told me that while he was 
preaching, the Spirit of God would often say to him, 'Go 
speak to that man,' as distinctly as He said to Philip in the 
desert, ' Go join thyself to his chariot.' I call to mind many 
such scenes in the life of Mr. Marsden. 

A rather showy and demonstrative local preacher attended 
his services, and made himself very prominent in the work. 
He put his hand on the young man's shoulder, and said : ' Take 
care ; you have got the devil's mark on your forehead. ' Those 
who heard him jwere grieved and sorry, and in their hearts 
condemned him for speaking so harshly of the young man. 
But the prophecy was true. That young man was a consum- 
mate hypocrite. He absconded shortly afterwards, leaving his 
young wife and family, and migrated to Salt Lake City, and 
became a Mormon. I believe he is there to this day. 

Mr. Marsden often uttered strange predictions from the pulpit 
when he was preaching with the greatest solemnity and power. 

One Sunday evening he was preaching in a crowded chapel, 
from the words, 'I will take the cup of salvation, and call 
upon the name of the Lord.' He worked up his congregation 
to a high pitch of excitement and enthusiasm, and then began 
asking: ' Who will accept this cup of salvation?' One, and 
another, and another, in various parts of the chapel, responded: 
' I will.' ' Hallelujah ! ' he exclaimed. ' Now those who mean 
to have this cup of salvation, stand up.' 

The whole congregation rose, except one young woman who 


sat in a front pew of the side gallery. Turning to her, he 
said : ' Young woman, stand up. In God's name I ask you to 
take the cup of salvation to-night. It may be your last 
opportunity.' She was angry, and pushed her way out of the 
pew, and along the crowded passages in the gallery on her way 
to the street, amid the breathless attention and anxious solici- 
tude of the whole congregation. As she struggled to escape, 
he called after her again : ' Young woman, stop in God's name'; 
I have a message for you. If you go out of this chapel uncon- 
verted, you will die in your sins. I am not a prophet, nor the 
son of a prophet, but you are going the way to ruin your 
reputation, and destroy your own soul, and wreck your family. 
If you are alive this day twelve months, the Lord has not 
spoken by me.' 

This address made a profound impression on the congrega- 
tion, but she heeded it not, as she hurried down the stairs 
and ran into the street She was well known as the daughter 
of a respectable tailor and woollen-draper in the town, and the 
words of the preacher proved to be prophetic. In two or 
three months her father failed in business, and the home was 
broken up. The shock killed his wife, and he sank under his 
misfortunes and died a few weeks afterwards. The young 
woman sought to drown her sorrows in drink, and soon be- 
came a profligate and an outcast. She lived for a few months 
a life of sin and shame, and died a miserable and loathsome 
death in less than twelve months. 

During one of his visits to Lancashire he was entertained 
by one of the leading Methodists in the Circuit. This gentle- 
man had a considerable number of young men in his employ, 
who resided on the premises. Soon after his arrival on the 
Saturday night, Mr. Marsden gathered these young men to- 
gether for spiritual conversation and counsel. Then he prayed 
with them, and told them he wanted to see every one of them 
converted before he went away. They all promised to attend 
the services, as often as they had opportunity, except two of 
them, who said : * Now, Mr. Marsden, we have the greatest 
respect for you personally, but we do not believe in your work, 
and we do not mean to come to the services.' 


All the rest were converted in the course of the following 
week, and he was determined to have these two. So he met 
them one morning in a joking humour, and said : ' Now the 
Lord has saved all your comrades, and He would have saved 
you if you had only been willing to come to the services. I 
know the reason of your absence : it is because you dare not 
come.' This was too much for them. They could stand a 
good deal, but to be told publicly before their shopmates that 
they dared not go to chapel to hear a sermon was more than 
they could bear. Out of sheer bravado they were compelled 
to go that night. 

He saw them in the congregation, and he told the Lord 
some strange things about them in his prayer, and asked the 
prayers of the congregation for them. At the close of the 
sermon he announced a prayer-meeting, and while they were 
singing the last hymn he went to the chapel door, and allowed 
nobody to go home without challenging him. A servant girl 
came and said, ' Please, Mr. Marsden, I promised my mistress 
I would be home at half -past eight.' 'Good girl,' said he, 
'go home and keep your promise. The Lord bless you.' 
^ Having cut off the escape of the two obstinate ones, he 
saw they were delivered into his hands, and would be com- 
pelled for the sake of their reputation to stay the prayer-meet- 
ing, and brave it out. They would have given anything if 
they could have left the chapel without exposing themselves 
to charges of cowardice and want of spirit. 

While the prayer-meeting was being held, he went to them, 
and one of them said : ' Now, Mr. Marsden, it is of no use 
coming here to talk to us about religion. Nothing you can 
say will make the slightest impression on us. We are only 
come because you dared us to come, and we are staying the 
prayer-meeting to let you see we are not afraid of anything 
you can say or do.' Then he turned upon them like one of 
the fiery prophets of old, and said : ' The day of your oppor- 
tunity has come. It is high tide with you, and if you don't 
raise your anchors and set sail to-day, you never will. If you 
are not converted now, you will die in a prison or a poorhouse. 
I may not live to see it, but if you should either of you get to 


a prison or a poorhouse while I live, send for me to Doncaster, 
and I will come to see you.' 

Then, turning to one of them, he reminded him of his early- 
religious privileges, of his praying father and pious mother 
and godly surroundings, and asked him how long he intended 
to kick against the pricks. After a fearful struggle that young 
man went to the penitent form, and sought and found mercy. 
He became a devoted Christian, and is now a Wesleyan 

Turning to the other young man, he said : ' I am not so 
much surprised at your conduct. You were never taught to 
think highly of religion, ; and you have been accustomed to 
treat it with contempt. You may fool me, and trifle with my 
message ; but don't you trifle with my Master.' 

The young man resisted and defied him to the last. His old 
employer told me he was a splendid business man, and might 
have had a most successful career ; but, shortly after the visit 
of Mr. Marsden, he took offence at some trifle and gave up his 
situation. He got drunk, and in a wild freak enlisted as a 
soldier. His troop passed through Doncaster and spent a night 
there. He primed himself with drink, and went to Mr. 
Marsden's house to tell him he was a false prophet, for he had 
not gone to the devil yet. Mr. Marsden was not at home, but 
he left a message with the servant with his name and address. 
Shortly afterwards he was convicted and sentenced to a long 
term of imprisonment, and I have heard quite recently that he 
died in prison, thus literally fulfilling Mr. Marsden's predic- 

It would be very easy to multiply instances of solemn public 
warnings, uttered by Mr. Marsden to impenitent sinners, being 
fulfilled to the letter. But I have given a few examples that 
are sufficiently diversified to enable the reader to form a clear 
idea of their general character. The question will be asked : 
' How did he gain the information on which he based his 
statements ? ' 

1. He was a keen student of human nature. He could read 
the looks and deportment and faces and forms of men. He 
understood a blush, a leer, a look, a sigh; and to him most 


men were books to be read and studied. He lias seen hidden 
gems in unconverted men that nobody else saw, and has dug 
them up and polished them. One of his earliest spiritual 
children was a youth in whom he saw great promise, and he 
resolved to bring him out. The youth became a successful 
local preacher and emigrated to Australia. He prospered in 
business, made a fortune, rose to rank and social position in the 
colony, was elected a member of the Legislature, took high 
office in the Ministry, and became one of the foremost men in 
the country. 

This is but one example out of many that show his power of 
reading character. 

2. He was a shrewd observer of men and things. He could 
reason from cause to effect almost instinctively. If he saw to 
what point of the compass men were steering, he would almost 
infallibly tell them at what port they would arrive. He be- 
lieved that God's moral laws were as fixed and reliable as His 
physical laws ; and if he could only have one glance into men's 
seed-baskets, he would tell them what the harvest would be. 
Nothing escaped his eyes and ears. He prayed with his eyes 
open ; for he believed it was his duty to watch as well as pray. 
tie was quick to detect by a word or accent any clue that 
would give him information. He heard a man utter one word 
in his prayer that was peculiar to the Eoman Catholic liturgy, 
and went away saying : ' That man is a pious Catholic' The 
people standing by wondered how he knew, but he had some- 
thing else to do just then than explain such trifles to his 

3. He was a holy man, and the secret of the Lord was with 
him. He was mighty in prayer, and in intimate communion 
with heaven. He lived within speaking distance of God's 
throne daily, and prayed without ceasing. I have heard him 
say he could come down from the pulpit after preaching, and 
go round the chapel, and pick out almost every unconverted 
man and woman in the place ; and I have seen him do it 
again and again. Sometimes the Spirit would say to him, 
' Go and speak to that man.' As he was riding on a turnpike 
road one day, he saw a young gentleman farmer in a field alone, 


and this message came to him. . He dismounted, and tied his 
horse to the gate, and went into the field to talk to the stranger. 
They spoke for a few moments about the weather, and the 
prospects of the harvest, and general subjects. Then he made 
a powerful appeal to the young gentleman about the value of 
his soul, and pointed him to Jesus, and entreated him to get 
ready for eternity. He then knelt down among the grass, and 
earnestly pleaded with God for the young farmer's conversion. 
As he took his leave of him, he charged him to meet him in 

Years afterwards he was in another part of England con- 
ducting special services, when a stranger came and grasped him 
warmly by the hand, and thanked him for kind services done 
to him long ago. 

' Where did you see me ? ' inquired Mr. Marsden ; ' I have 
no recollection of you.' 

' Do you recollect tying your horse to a gate-post, and praying 
with a young man in a field ? ' the stranger asked. 

' Yes, I remember it now you name it,' said he. 

* I was that young man ; and after you had prayed with me, 
I did not rest until I obtained salvation; and now I am preach- 
ing the Gospel to others.' 

Then they cordially shook hands once more, and shouted, 

Sometimes he ignored or disregarded some of these impres- 
sions and inferences, and brought himself into condemnation. 
I remember once seeing him in great distress through having 
set up his own judgment in opposition to what he believed to 
be the will of the Lord. He was invited to conduct special 
services in a neighbouring town. I fully intended spending 
the Sunday with him, and giving him what countenance and 
help I could, but was detained by pressing engagements at 
home. On the following Tuesday morning I received a note 
from him, asking me to come over at once and see him. I 
found him in great mental anguish and distress. He greeted 
me very cordially, and with tears in his eyes said : ' Taylor, 
tell me what is the matter with this place. I make no impres- 
sion on the people, and am doing no good here. I shall go to 


Doncaster to-morrow.' I said : ' Such nonsense ! You must do 
no such thing ! -You must tarry here till you do make an 
impression on the people.' 'Well,' said he, ' do tell me what 
is the matter with the place. It breaks my heart to go on 
like this. I cannot get the members to attend our services ; 
they leave all the responsibility on me, and I am doing nothing.' 
I told him that the Methodists in the town were strong enough 
to carry all before them, and revolutionise the place, if they 
only knew it. I compared them to a sleeping giant, whose 
strength had never been tried; but I predicted that if they 
could only be roused to effort, they would astonish the people. 
'Are they divided among themselves and jealous of each other?' 
he asked. I said : ' You have about hit the mark. We have 
numerically a fine regiment, but they are all officers. We 
want some private soldiers, and the only way to rouse this 
place is to go out and enlist some raw recruits. The members 
here are absolutely rusting and spoiling for want of work. 
They have had so much of the parade-ground and the drill- 
sergeant that some of them have deserted. If they could only 
smell powder and be hurled into the thick of the battle, they 
would quit themselves like men.' 

He listened very carefully, and weighed well the words, and 
after tea we went out into the market-place and held an open- 
air service. We gathered a good congregation and took them 
to chapel. He preached to the outcast and abandoned, and 
had what I called ' a good time.' It was not a good time to 
him, but everybody else in the chapel felt it good to be there. 
At the prayer-meeting we had several penitents, but the leaders 
of the Society in the town were conspicuous by their absence. 
There was not the least tinge of bitterness in his manner as he 
remarked to me : ' Taylor, the Lord can do without the best 
of us when He is busy. And if they don't come to help us, 
He will send somebody else.' Singularly enough we had a 
number of leaders and local preachers from the Primitive 
Methodist and New Connexion and Methodist Free Church 
congregations in the town, who had gathered round us in the 
market-place and followed us to the service. These entered 
heart and soul into the revival work, and caught the infection 


of his earnestness and zeal, and carried the fire to their own 
congregations. So far as his visit related to our own Church 
and people in that town, it was a miserable failure, and its 
results were injurious, because it led to recrimination and fault- 
finding and bickering among those who came not up to the help 
of the Lord. But I believe he lighted a candle in the sister 
Churches that has been shining ever since in some hearts. I 
know some of their leaders and local preachers picked up an 
idea or two from him that they turned to good account in 
after years. 

He not only accepted invitations he ought to have declined, 
but he sometimes was mistaken in his judgments of men. He 
was now and then caught tripping rather seriously when he 
spoke unadvisedly with his lips ; but in the great majority of 
cases he was right in his estimates and sound in his judgment. 

He could not always give a satisfactory reason for the 
opinions he formed or the statements he made ; but he ' trusted 
in the Lord with all his heart,' and leaned less than most men 
to his own understanding. He feared the Lord, and proved 
the truth of the promise : ' The secret of the Lord is with them 
that fear Him.' 



The cunning hunter who pursues wild beasts to the jungle, and 
having once found a trail follows it successfully to the end, 
must have a thorough knowledge of the character, and habits, 
and modes of life of the animals he seeks. The successful 
angler who always returns with a heavy basket of fish must 
know the places they frequent, and the food that pleases them 
best, and the baits that are most tempting, and the habits and 
peculiarities of the different members of the finny tribe. So 
the successful evangelist must have a thorough knowledge of 
human nature, and must study the characters, and habits, and 
modes of thought of the men he seeks to save, and must put 
forth his utmost skill and effort if he would catch men. 

It is interesting to study the methods Mr. Marsden adopted 
in his work. We may not always approve of his plans and 
expedients, but they were the result of wide experience, and 
in his hands they were remarkably successful. 

I. He found it difficult to get near the people he wanted. 

The very people he came to seek and save did their best to 
keep out of his way. Frequently, when he commenced his 
mission services, the chapel would be filled with converted men 
and women, members and adherents of the Church, and they 
would sit in solemn silence listening to the most impressive 
sermon. This would satisfy some men, but it stung him to 
the quick if the unconverted kept out of range. 

One Sunday morning he preached in one of our fashionable 
chapels to a congregation composed almost entirely of members 
of Society. He charmed them with the simplicity and power 
of his language, the clearness and beauty of his illustrations, 



and the pungency and power of his appeals ; and they were 
just thinking this could never be the revivalist preacher they 
had heard so much about, when he suddenly stopped and closed 
the Bible abruptly. ' The devil is in the chapel,' he exclaimed. 
' I can't preach. Let us pray ! ' Down on his knees he fell, 
and prayed for the Sabbath-breaker, and the drunkard, and 
the thief, and the profligate, and the abandoned, with such 
earnestness and power that his hearers trembled and became 
terribly excited. They went home at noon and told their 
friends what a charming piece of a sermon they had had, and 
how suddenly the preacher had gone mad in the pulpit. 

After service he went into the lowest public-houses, and 
among the shops that were open on Sunday, and to the groups 
of Sabbath-breakers, and preached and prayed till he had 
fairly roused the neighbourhood. 

When the hour of the evening service arrived, the chapel 
was packed with an excited crowd who were unaccustomed to 
attend any place of worship. He preached to the outcast and 
abandoned, and had scores of them in penitence and tears at 
the prayer-meeting. The respectable members of Society, who 
had had their morning sermon spoiled, did not understand 
his vagaries at all ; but he knew exactly what he was doing, 
and was delighted that his stratagem succeeded so well. He 
had got the unconverted within range, and he would take 
care they did not escape. 

One of his most successful traps for catching men was his 
power over the children. He believed that if you want to get 
at the hearts of the fathers and mothers, you must try to win 
the little ones, Hence he went into the Sunday-school, and 
gained their affections and sympathy, and enlisted them into 
his service. He went into the playgrounds and streets and 
lanes, and invited all the boys and girls to come and help him 
to sing at the services. 

He organised orange-feasts and apple-feasts for the children, 
but the oranges and apples were the baits he used to catch 
them with. He would buy a few hundred oranges, or a few 
baskets of apples, and send them round the school by the 
teachers, with strict orders that each child should take one, but 


they were not to eat it till he told them. "When they were 
all served, he wottld make them hold up the oranges so that he 
could see them. Then looking at the large quantity left, he 
would ask what should be done with them. If there were a 
sick brother or sister at home who could not come to the feast, 
he would propose that an orange be sent to them. This would 
be carried by a show of hands. Then he would suggest that 
the remainder be sent to the babies at home, or to the sick 
people in the infirmary and hospital. Thus he would enlist 
their sympathy for others, and appeal to their generosity and 
love. Then he would give a stirring address, full of touching 
and tender appeals to the children to give their hearts to God ; 
and they would be so interested that they would slip their 
oranges into their pockets, and listen with bated breath and 
tearful eyes. 

Often he would turn the orange-feast into a prayer-meeting, 
and have such scenes of penitence and prayer as would never 
be forgotten. Children of tender years were as much under 
his influence as adults, and were as quick to understand the 
plan of salvation ; and many of them were converted through 
*his ministry. 

After one of his orange-feasts the children would rally round 
him at every service, and they became his most successful 
helpers. They brought their parents and friends and com- 
panions to chapel, and distributed his handbills, and helped 
him to sing at his open-air mission services ; and many of them 
became his spiritual children. 

Another of his expedients was dividing the ranks of the 
enemy. Like a daring general who finds the enemy too strong 
for him when united, he often succeeded in sowing dissension 
among them, and breaking them up into hostile camps, and so 
defeating them both. In street-preaching he always gained 
the ears of the lowest classes, and generally contrived to say 
something that would sting a few of them to the quick. They 
would resent his remarks with some warmth, and perhaps lose 
their tempers, and try to put him down. Then he would 
assume an air of injured innocence, and appeal to the well- 
known love of fair play that is to be found among Englishmen. 


He would not be put down, and he would have the sympathy 
and support of the majority of his hearers ; and if the mal- 
contents did not like it, they could go home. But he knew 
right well they would not go home ; for he had broken them 
up into two camps — those who were in his favour, and those 
who were against him. And when he marched to the chapel 
for service, one party would go to protect him and see fair 
play, and the other party would go to annoy him. So this 
piece of strategy succeeded to perfection. He did not care 
what motives brought them to the service, so long as he got 
them there. He knew right well that as soon as they were 
seated in the pews, and he was in the pulpit, they were caught 
in a trap, and the Lord would deliver them into his hands. 

Then he would fall upon friends and foes alike, and with 
consummate skill and marvellous success he would preach the 
Gospel, and win many souls. But his surest way of catching 
men was going out into the highways and hedges and com^ 
pelling them to come in. Wherever men gathered together, 
there he would surely go. During dinner-hour he would visit 
the factory arid the foundry and the forge, and give a lecture 
on ' The Dignity of Labour,' or ' Strikes and Lock-outs,' or some 
other popular subject, for about twenty minutes ; then he 
would pray with them, and invite them to the service in the 

IL He found it difficult to get people to think. 

If he could get near the people, he would make them listen, 
and he would make them understand what he had to say. 
But too often men will listen to the most impressive and 
eloquent sermons with all the marks of pleasure and approval, 
and yet allow the truth to go in at one ear and out at the 
other. They go away and forget what they have heard, and 
are neither wiser nor better for the preacher's efforts. He had 
a firm conviction that the more he tried to please such hearers, 
the less good he would be likely to effect. If his sermons 
must do any good, they must 'bite.' Somebody charged him 
with preaching sermons intended to please and captivate and 
charm his hearers, but, like the sermons of other men, produc- 
ing no striking results. He said : ' I plead guilty. I. have 



preached sermons full of flowers and waxworks. They are 
very pretty, but they do nobody any good. If the good Lord 
will forgive me this time, I will never do it again. In future 
I will put as many cats, and dogs, and lions, and tigers, into 
my sermons as I can. They shall have teeth and claws, and 
I will make them both scratch and bite.' 

His critics were often terribly severe with him for his plain- 
ness and pungency, and the directness of his personal appeals. 
In reply to their hostile criticisms he said : ' Backsliding Israel 
wanted " smooth things," and the gentlemen of those days 
thought the prophet a coarse rough fellow. But the prophet 
belonged to the salvation army, and the gentlemen ill-used and 
persecuted him. The rich persecutors and the false prophets 
belonged to the damnation army.' 

Holding such opinions as these,, it is no wonder that he 
offended many. A young local preacher said to me : 'I was 
terribly annoyed at him for praying publicly for my con- 
version, and mentioning me in the pulpit by name. I went 
out of the chapel in a rage, and vowed I would never enter it 
again. But his prayers were stronger than my will; for I 
,pame again a night or two afterwards and surrendered my 
heart to Christ. I not only forgave him for insulting me, but 
thanked him for being so faithful and plain with me.' 

He believed that if he could set men thinking, he could do 
them good. Hence many of his most wild and random expres- 
sions were intended as thought-provokers. He said to one 
young woman : ' You have got the marks of death upon you.' 
She was terribly alarmed, thinking he meant she would die 
in a very short time, and went at once and made her peace 
with God He simply meant that she was clad in mourning, 
and ought to be reminded by the death of friends that she too 
must die. He rejoiced that she had repented of her sins, and 
gave her spiritual counsel and help. 

Thus many of his most extraordinary expressions were 
uttered for the purpose of awakening thought and reflection 
and inquiry. 

I have known him walk up to a group of idlers in the street, 
and ask one of them if he could -spell. Then he would point 


to the fingers of his right hand, and say, ' r-i-g-h-t ; ' and then 
to the fingers of his left hand, and say, ' w-r-o-n-g.' When he 
had got some of them to spell the words, he would say, * Now, 
lads, which is it you are taking ? — -the right or the wrong path ? ' 
No matter how ignorant or stupid his hearers might be, he 
would draw them into conversation, and get them to express 
their opinions, and perhaps have a lively and humorous dis- 
cussion with them. Then he would turn upon them, and 
out of their own mouths he would condemn them, and give 
them two or three Gospel truths which they would never 


Sometimes he would go to such a group of idlers with this 
question : ' Could you find a better place for your nose than 
where it is?' One of them would suggest one place, and 
another a different one ; but he would always find some fatal 
objection to their schemes, and prove that God was right and 
they were wrong. Having drawn them into conversation, 
and got them to think, he would prove that God's laws are 
always in the right, and sinners are always in the wrong. 
Then he would teach them a short prayer, and perhaps say 
something that would lead them to repentance and a better 

He went into one of the forges at Thorncliffe, near Sheffield, 
at noon, to address the workmen, and found that one of the 
furnaces was being cooled down for repairs. The workmen 
were very courteous to him, and asked him to ascend a ladder 
and look into the mass of fire that was dying out under the 
cooling process. When he came down the ladder, the men 
gathered round him for conversation. He began by telling 
them that ' hell was hotter than that furnace,' and warning 
them of the guilt and danger of those who would not repent 
and accept the Saviour. Then he knelt down among the slag 
and cinders and ashes, and fervently prayed that God would 
save every workman from sin, and cleinse his heart, and make 
him fit for heaven. 

There was a fiddler at Skelmanthorpe who used to attend 
the chapel and fiddle for the choir. He assumed a position of 
authority in the place, though he was not a member of Society, 


and had no right to interfere in matters belonging to the 
Church. As he» could not get his own way, and the members 
of Society gave him to understand that they could get on very 
well without him, unless he would be more amiable, he took 
offence and left the chapel. He went to the public-houses, and 
began to fiddle for the amusement of the public. One day Mr. 
Marsden met him in the street, looked him straight in the face, 
and said : ' Take care you don't fiddle yourself into hell.' Not 
another word was spoken ; but that message was a barbed 
arrow that flew straight to the poor fiddler's conscience. He 
never forgot it to his dying day. It set him thinking so 
seriously about his condition, that he came to a better mind 
and began to lead a better life. 

I have observed that in many parts of the country Mr. 
Marsden is remembered by some people only on account of the 
odd expressions he used, or the extraordinary things he did. 
Events that occurred thirty or forty years ago are still fresh in 
men's memories, and I have spoken to many who saw only the 
humorous and grotesque side of his remarks, and never could 
see beneath the surface. Most of his random statements must 
l>e looked upon as we should regard a bow drawn at a venture ; 
and just as the arrow shot at random found its way to Ahab's 
body through the joints of his armour, so many of his light 
playful words were winged by the Holy Spirit and resulted in 
the conversion of sinners. 

He was full of fun and as playful as a kitten, but he had 
always a pure motive and a good intention ; and he has joked 
and teased many a man into a better life, who could not be 
brought to sober thought and reflection in any other way. 

III. He found it difficult to bring people to decision for Christ. 

Often, when he had explained and enforced the truth so 
powerfully that people acknowledged the claims of God, and 
admitted they ought to serve Him, he was met by indifference 
or opposition. He used to say he did not care so much for 
the devil of opposition ; he often did him good when he thought 
he was doing him harm. But the devil of indifference was a 
formidable foe ; and when he encountered him, there would be 
some stirring times. 


At one of his revival services was a young lady who was 
engaged to be married to a young and promising local preacher. 
She was unconverted, and he had offended her by speaking 
strongly of the evil consequences arising from Christians 
marrying the unconverted. He went to her in the prayer- 
meeting, and pointed out the duty of making her peace with 
God, and affectionately and earnestly implored her to surrender 
herself to Christ. Finding her obstinate and unyielding, he 
said, ' Then you shall not have that local preacher.' This 
was too much for her dignity. She flew into a great rage, 
rushed out of the pew, and marched down the aisle to leave 
the chapel ; but before she reached the door, the Spirit of God 
arrested her. With a wild cry she fell on the floor, and when 
they picked her up they found her broken-hearted and contrite, 
and crying for mercy. They took her to the communion rail, 
and she obtained pardon and became a true follower of the 
Lord Jesus Christ. She not only forgave him for the severe 
measures he took with her, but she and her husband in after 
years held him in high esteem and affection. 

Some of his methods of catching men and bringing them to 
decision were highly amusing. 

While he was conducting revival services at Newark, a youth 
put his head inside the door, to hear what was going on. This 
lad had a shock of curly hair that arrested Mr. Marsden's atten- 
tion. Presently he walked down the aisle to the door, and 
spoke kindly to the lad, and invited him to come in. As he 
seemed timid and inclined to run away, the preacher laid hold 
of a handful of curls and held him fast. Then he told him 
how the Lord Jesus Christ wanted to make a man of him, and 
the devil wanted to make a fool of him; and urged him to 
come and seek for mercy. He pleaded with the lad, and gently 
pulled his curls, till the lad followed his hair and marched up 
the aisle to the communion rail. The preacher held him by 
the hair till he had safely deposited him among the penitents. 
The youth was converted and became a minister in one of the 
sister Churches, and often tells his friends that * Isaac Marsden 
brought him to Christ by the hair of his head.' 

On another occasion he found a little girl weeping bitterly 


alone in one of the pews at a prayer-meeting. He took her up 
under his arm and carried her to the communion rail. There 
he gently set her down, and talked and prayed with her till 
her soul was made happy. Years afterwards a lady came up 
to him at one of his services in a distant part of the country, 
and asked him if he remembered her. He regretted to say he 
had forgotten her. Then she asked him if he remembered 
taking up a little girl under his arm at a certain place, and 
pointing her to Jesus. He recalled the incident, and expressed 
his pleasure at meeting her again. She thanked him for his 
kindness, and assured him that she then filled a situation for 
which she never would have been fitted but for his zeal and 
devotion in seeking her salvation. 

At Doncaster Mr. Marsden was very anxious about the con- 
version of a backslider. He had spoken to him repeatedly 
about his soul, and the man had expressed a desire to come 
back to the Church, but he could never bring him to decision. 
At length he heard the man was taking a situation as a bottler 
in a wine-cellar, and he was afraid that drink might ruin him. 
Happily he met him in Priory Place one night, just opposite 
the chapel, and challenged him there and then to instant deci- 
sion. The man made excuses and wanted to procrastinate, 
but he seized him by the collar and led him up the chapel 
yard and carried him into a vestry. Then he locked the door, 
and induced him to go down on his knees and make a full and 
complete surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ. The man was 
soundly converted, and lived a holy life and died a triumphant 

In scores of cases he has picked up children and young 
people in his arms, and gently carried them to the penitent 
form, and held them till he had induced them to seek for 
mercy. In some instances he has caught strong men and 
forced them to their knees by sheer physical strength. But 
these methods he never approved himself, and would have 
condemned them in others. If he succeeded in gaining his 
ends by some droll and novel expedient, he would enjoy a 
quiet laugh of satisfaction, and perhaps repeat the story after^ 
wards for the amusement of his friends. These eccentricities 


are often spoken of as the secret of his power over men, but 
he had a reserve of strength that could only be seen by a close 
and thoughtful observer. 

1. He had great moral and spiritual power. In a remark- 
able degree he had the ' power of goodness.' Bad men were 
afraid of him. If he went into slums and courts and alleys 
that were the abodes of crime and violence, he had a charmed 
life. If two men attacked or threatened him, there would be 
sure to be three or four to defend him. I could mention streets 
■where policemen never dare to go alone, but he would go and 
face the worst of men single-handed. If he put his head 
inside a public-house on a Saturday night, the ribald song and 
coarse jest would cease, and his exhortations would be listened 
to with respect. If a prophet of the old dispensation had been 
sent to warn men of sin and offer them salvation, he could not 
have commanded more respectful attention than some of the 
very worst men gave to Mr. Marsden. 

2. He had practical faith in the power of the truth. He 
never preached a sermon that he did not fully endorse. All 
he said he meant. All he uttered of God's truth he unre- 
servedly accepted and absolutely believed. He never spoke 
with bated breath or faltering tongue. He preached as if he 
had been plunged into deepest hell and permitted to see the 
horrors of the damned, and then lifted to God's throne and 
been allowed to gaze on all the wonders of heaven. Keligion 
to him was not a mere profession — it was a reality. And when 
he proclaimed the truth, he expected other people to believe 
it and accept it. He knew that the Gospel is the power of 
God unto salvation to every one that believeth, and when he 
preached that Gospel he would have results. So surely as the 
farmer in the spring-time looks for the springing corn in the 
place where he sowed his wheat, so surely did he expect to 
reap what he had sown. So strong was his faith in the power 
of the truth, that he carried it to the most unlikely places, and 
produced the most striking results. If a man had sunk so low 
that he had not a friend in the world, and was mentally, 
morally, and socially bankrupt, that was the man he would 
rescue and save. He was specially severe with those Christians 


who have a theoretical faith and an orthodox creed, but who 
yield no fruits and produce no results. These flabby, inarticu- 
late, undemonstrative, neutral people raised his ire and pro- 
voked his contempt. They were the loafers in the harvest-field, 
the camp-followers keeping out of the battle-field, the drones 
in the hive of the Church, and the parasites that destroy the 
life they cannot give. 

3. He had wonderful persuasive power. His mental and 
moral superiority over most men induced them to look up to 
him and treat his opinions with respect. There was a certain 
quiet dignity about him, and an evident consciousness of power, 
that greatly impressed them. Then he had the art of putting 
things. He knew just what to say and how to say it. In a 
brief sentence or two he has put the great truths of the Gospel 
before a stranger at a prayer-meeting, and in a few moments 
the stranger has walked up to the communion rail without 
invitation. I have heard men vow and declare that nothing 
would ever induce them to go to a penitent form to confess 
Christ publicly before men ; but he has had no difficulty in 
persuading them to do it. He appealed to the understanding, 
the judgment, the intellect, the conscience. It has been said 
tftat his results were due to excitement, fanaticism, or fear; 
but there was more of head and heart in his works than his 
critics gave him credit for. Hence he caught not merely the 
low, and poor, and degraded ; but he lodged in his net some 
of the finest intellects and most cultivated minds. 



A stranger entering the chapel when Mr. Marsden preached 
would be struck with his commanding appearance and devout 
earnestness. When he was in his prime, about ten or fifteen 
years before his death, he had great power in the pulpit. 

He was a little above the medium height, broad-shouldered 
and muscular, with a slight tendency to corpulence. He had 
a massive forehead, with all the intellectual and moral faculties 
fully developed; and, though his hair and beard grew pre- 
maturely grey, his complexion was florid, and he seemed to 
enjoy excellent health. 

He would read the verses of the first hymn with great 
reverence and impressiveness, occasionally giving a brief com- 
ment on some particular verse, or emphasizing and enforcing 
its spirituality of worship. Then he would kneel down, with 
his body erect and his face uplifted, and begin to pray. His 
voice was often thick and husky in consequence of the strain 
and injury he had inflicted upon it in former years ; but as he 
warmed to his work, the hoarseness usually passed away, and 
his voice became clear, and penetrating, and powerful. He 
spoke with deliberation and distinctness, so that every syllable 
and word could be heard and understood. He frequently 
opened his eyes during prayer, and noted the reverent and 
earnest wors] tippers, and kept a strict watch on the lawless 
intruders who came to disturb the service. His prayers were 
often individual and personal, and he would sometimes men- 
tion the singers, and the organist, and the chapel-keeper. He 
prayed for every member of the congregation, and for all sorts 
and conditions of mm, and concluded with an eloquent and 


impassioned appeal to God for a present blessing on himself 
and on his hearers. He did not believe in long prayers. He 
knew what he wanted when he came to the mercy-seat, and he 
spread his wants before the Lord with childlike simplicity and 
faith. He would not be denied. He would return to the 
particular desire of his heart again and again, and he would 
plead, and entreat, and beseech, and argue his case, till the 
Lord said to him, ' Be it unto thee even as thou wilt.' And 
then his prayer was turned to praise, and he would shout 
'Hallelujah' till the congregation said 'Amen.' 

This was his first victory during the service. He had gained 
the ear of the Master. He had conquered his own spirit and 
roused himself to enthusiasm. He made his hearers shake off 
their lethargy and indifference,, and, to use his own expressive 
words, 'it was time for the devil to look out.' 

When he came out of the first prayer' with colours flying and 
shouting ' Hallelujah,' he was having a good time, and woe to 
the organist and choir who could not find a tune that would 
go in harmony with the enthusiasm of the congregation. He 
would have no plaintive tunes pitched in a minor key when 
he was in his triumphant career. He would have tunes that 
everybody could sing, and he would make everybody try to 
sing. He said it was no use driving the devil out of the 
pulpit if he let him take refuge in the singing gallery ; for he 
would be giving the 'Dead March' when they wanted the 
doxology. He would not have half a victory, he would have 
all or none. Sometimes the organist would take offence, and 
the choir would strike against his interference ; but if they 
would not sing, somebody else would; so he had his own 
way in the end. 

The portion of Scripture read for the lesson usually had some 
intimate connection with the sermon. It was useless to try to 
bind him to a regular order of service. If the lesson for the 
day suited his purpose, he would read it ; but if he was about 
to preach on some subject that was not mentioned in the lesson, 
he would choose a portion of Scripture that would be of spe- 
cial help to him in his sermon. His running expositions and 
comments on the lesson were singularly clear, intelligent, and 


spiritually helpful to the service. His knowledge of Scripture 
•was evidently wide and deep and varied. I have seen him 
keep a congregation spell-bound and breathless with interest, 
as he illustrated some principle, or enforced some duty, or set 
forth some truth hidden away in some obscure part of the 
lesson. Ordinary readers would have passed it by unnoticed, 
but his keen eye saw the hidden gem, and he quickly seized 
it, and held it up to his delighted hearers. These comments 
were usually pithy and pointed — just long enough to whet the 
appetite and make men wish for more. 

After another earnest, lively hymn had been sung to a 
popular tune, the congregation would settle down with evident 
relish to hear the sermon. He would announce his text, and 
read it very carefully twice. Then he would plunge at once 
without apology or preface into his subject. He would arrest 
the attention of his hearers by his plain and powerful statement 
of truth, and by his bold and vivid imagery. His sermons 
were evidently carefully prepared, and full of interesting and 
profitable matter. He wrote volumes of notes, but they give 
no idea of his sermons as they were preached. Notes to him 
were but the bony framework of his sermons : his vivid 
imagination and ready wit supplied the flesh and skin and 
clothing. Perhaps the best example of his style is given in the 
following description of his popular sermon on 

The House of Obed-edom. 

' And the ark of God remained with the family of Obed- 
edom in his house three months. And the Lord blessed the 
house of Obed-edom, and all that he had.' — 1 Chron. xiii. 14. 

He began by telling the congregation that he had travelled 
t'ii times from York to Newcastle on the same line of railway. 
He had looked out of the carriage windows, and enjoyed the 
varied scenery, and noted every object of interest by the way. 
But although lie had observed things so carefully, he had seen 
some new subject for admiration and study each journey, and 
he was sure he had not seen everything yet. Then he went on 
t<> tell them that he had gone ten times from Genesis to Reve- 
lation, in his private devotions. He had read every chapter 


and verse carefully and prayerfully on his knees. Each time 
he had finished, # he nattered himself he knew the "Word of God 
thoroughly. But when he began again, he was sure to find 
something that had escaped his notice previously. The last 
journey he took through the Bible, he stumbled on this house 
of Obed-edom. It was in such an out-of-the-way place that 
he had not noticed it in his first nine journeys, but this time, as 
he was passing, he called and introduced himself to Mr. and 
Mrs. Obed-edom and their eight sons (i Chron. xxvi. 4, 5). 
There was nothing very remarkable about the appearance of 
the house, or its furniture, or its surroundings. But to him it 
had peculiar charms, for there the ark of God rested for three 
months. He wanted them to show him the room where it 
stood, and tell him what it was like, and let him know what 
sort of a life they lived while the ark of the covenant was 
sheltered under their humble roof. 

So they told him how the ark was on its way from the house 
of Abinadab, and the oxen fell with the cart. Uzzah put forth 
his hand to steady the ark and prevent it from falling, as 
though God were not able and willing to take care of His 
own. The anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and 
he died beside the ark. The priests lifted the ark from the 
cart, and carried it reverently into the house, and left it 

And Mrs. Obed-edom told him how the blessing of the Lord 
came with the ark. Her husband and her sons used to bow 
with her before the ark in worship. They obtained the for- 
giveness of their sins and the favour of God. The Lord blessed 
them with health and strength, with peace and prosperity. 
The news of their blessedness was carried to the king's palace, 
and David fetched the ark to Mount Zion, with songs and 
dances and universal rejoicings. 

But when the ark was removed, the blessing of the Lord 
remained with them. Their sons grew up strong and virtuous 
and useful. They were all ' able men for strength for the 
service.' There was not a weakling, nor a fop, nor a fool among 
them. They were men. They honoured their parents, they 
served their country, and they loved the Lord. 


Then came a stirring appeal to the congregation. They were 
urged there and then to open their doors and admit the ark of 
the Lord. 

I. The blessedness of family religion was set forth in striking 

1. The ark of the Lord icas a visible witness for Jehovah 
wherever it went. To the pious Israelite it was always an 
object of interest. The two tables of stone containing the ten 
commandments reminded him of his obligation to know and 
keep the law of God. The pot of manna and Aaron's rod that 
budded reminded him of God's wise and wondrous providence, 
and His faithfulness to His promises and to His people. Its 
mercy-seat was the place of Divine manifestation and glory. 
It was full of hallowed memories, and appealed to man's highest 
and purest and holiest aspirations. 

So religion in the household was a witness for God everywhere. 
What would the preacher have been but for the prayers of a 
sainted mother 1 In his wildest excesses of folly and sin her 
prayers were chains and fetters that restrained him more than 
any power on earth beside. In darkest night and fiercest temp- 
tation, one thought of her tender, pleading, prevailing prayers 
has restrained him when he was blind and deaf to every other 
call to duty. 

And where would some of the congregation have been but 
for the hallowed memories of the ark in the household? Some 
of them had fallen very low and sinned most grievously ; but 
they recalled the memories of a family altar, and a sainted 
father, and a pious mother, and days of happiness and inno- 

He need not argue with them about the blessedness of 
family religion as a witness for God at all times, or assure 
them of its influence over every member of the household. 
He need only appeal to their memories and speak to their 

2. The ark of the Lord was the dwelling-place of Jehovah. 
While it was true that heaven was God's throne and earth His 
footstool, and He filled heaven and earth with His presence, 
yet it was also true that the Shechinah expressed the visible 


majesty of the Divine presence. It was a symbol of God's 
presence, and to. it came all who sought for mercy and desired 
to worship Jehovah, 

So the altar in the household was the dwelling-place of 
Jehovah. God said to every devout worshipper : ' Make Me a 
sanctuary, that I may dwell there.' ' Behold, the tabernacle of 
God is with men, and He will dwell with them.' 

And when Jehovah came to dwell in the household, He 
wrought miracles of grace and mercy. When father and mother 
were converted and worshipped at the family altar, the blessing 
of the Lord came and rested on the family. 

There was a striking record given among the genealogies in 
the Chronicles (i Chron. xxvi. 4-8). After enumerating the 
sons and grandsons of Obed-edom, we are told that they were 
'all able men for strength for the service.' Physically, mentally, 
morally, and spiritually they were men. The grandest heroes in 
tne world have been the godly men, and they have sprung almost 
invariably from godly homes. The altar in the household has 
been the place where they received their religious life and 
strength. ' The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked, 
but He blesseth the habitation of the just.' 

II. The privileges of family religion were next illustrated and 

1. The ark of the Lord came to the house of Obed-edom for 
only a brief and temporary visit. It was only once in a life- 
time, and then for a few months, that they had the privilege of 
receiving the ark into their household. But we may have it 
always. The newly-married pair, who have just set up house- 
keeping, may erect this altar and worship there till old age and 
hoary hairs. And when death carries them away, he cannot 
remove the ark, but it may abide in the family down to 
children's children. 

2. The ark of the Lord came laden with blessings to the house 
of Obed-edom. He made no excuses about being unworthy, and 
not fit to receive it and entertain it. He saw the ark at his 
door, and knew that the day of his opportunity had come, and, 
like a wise man, he flung wide open his door, and promptly and 
gladly received it. 


And when he received the ark he received with it the blessing 
of the Lord. All that he had was hallowed and blessed. His 
sons grew up virtuous and strong. His entire household 
received the favour and blessing of God. 

And when the ark of the Lord comes into your household, 
it comes laden with blessing. I would rather pass my days 
exposed to danger and death than dwell in a household that is 
not hallowed and blessed with family religion and a daily recog- 
nition of the claims of God. Where a family altar is erected 
and the ark of God dwells, I can claim the protection of God's 
almighty care, and the provision of His wise and wondrous 
providence. Let my home be where you please, but I must and 
will have the ark in the household. 

3. The ark of the Lord came to the house of Obed-edom 
under peculiar and exceptional circumstances. "We cannot 
unravel the tangled skein of providence that brought the ark 
to his door. There had been a great revival of religion 
throughout the land, and David resolved to fetch the ark of 
God from its obscurity at Kirjath-jearim and remove it to 
Mount Zion. A new cart was provided, and Uzzah and Ahio 
drove the oxen from the house of Abinadab as far as the 
threshing-floor of Chidon, while David and all Israel played 
and sang before God with all their might. Suddenly the oxen 
stumbled among the stones in the rough road, and the ark of 
the Lord tottered and staggered as if it would fall. Uzzah 
put forth his hand and touched it, when the anger of the Lord 
smote him so that he died. His sudden death hushed the 
singers and musicians, and stopped the procession. David 
removed the ark from the cart, and reverently placed it in the 
house of Obed-edom. It was a strange and mysterious pro- 
vidence, and we cannot solve its problems. 

i The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the 
sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh and whither 
it goeth : so is every one that is born of the Spirit.' You 
cannot solve the problems connected with your own conversion, 
and you know not the hidden springs that caused the ark of 
God to call at your door. Financial difficulties, family and 
personal affliction, sudden bereavement, terrible losses and 


trials, times of religious excitement and revival, and a host of 
other things, are, woven into the web of your life, you know 
not how or why, but they produce results you never expected. 
Prayer and Providence have brought the ark to your door to- 
day. Seize the opportunity and welcome the Saviour to your 
hearts and to your homes. 

The ark of the Lord calls at every man's door. The invita- 
tions of the Gospel reached you years ago. God came very 
nigh to you by His AVord, and His Spirit, and His servants, 
and His Sabbaths, and the services of His sanctuary ; and you 
might have enjoyed all the blessedness of His salvation at that 
time, but you shut the door in His face. You said : ' I am 
unworthy ; ' 'I have been such a great sinner ; } ' I cannot 
entertain such a serious question ; ' and when the Lord saw you 
would not receive Him, He left you to your own devices. 

But He is at your door again to-day. Will you say again, 
' Go Thy way for this time ' % The day of your opportunity 
has come, and your future for time and eternity depends on 
the answer you will give. It may be a heaven or hell question 
with you at this moment. God help you to decide it as wisely 
and promptly as Mr. and Mrs. Obed-edom ! 

These outlines indicate his mode of treatment of this 
subject, but they convey a very poor idea of the strength and 
grandeur of the sermon. No words can adequately represent 
the pathos and power of its delivery. The peroration at the 
end of the sermon was magnificent. The ark of the Lord at 
the sinner's door ! Shall it come in, with all its train of 
blessedness and privileges % Or will you shut the door upon 
it and leave it to unhallowed hands? These questions were 
enforced, and an immediate answer was demanded. 

Prom this powerful appeal he plunged at once into a prayer- 
meeting. On one occasion he led a youth from a pew near the 
chapel door in tears of penitence to the communion rail. Soon 
the joy of pardon burst on that young man's soul. He sprang 
to his feet, grasped the preacher eagerly by the hand, and said : 
'The Lord has forgiven me — where is our Will?' They went 
together to the pew, and the new convert said to his brother : 


'Come on, Will; we have sinned together, let us begin to 
serve God together.' 

In the same pew were a young man and his wife who usually- 
attended church, and had seldom been in a chapel. But so 
strong was the influence and so high-strung the excitement, that 
they all went together to the communion rail and began to cry 
for mercy. The preacher placed one hand on the head of the 
husband, and the other on the head of the wife, and said : ' You 
have been united in marriage, and you shall be united in the 
Church.' Then he prayed fervently for their conversion, and 
soon they were both rejoicing in a sense of forgiveness. They 
are to this day useful and consistent members of Society, and 
the revival which commenced at the close of that sermon on 
the House of Obed-edom added scores to the Society. 

In preaching he kept closely and intelligently, but not 
slavishly, to his notes. He illustrated his ideas by historical 
and scriptural references, by quotations from authors and poets, 
by analogy, and metaphor, and parable ; and contrived to keep 
up the interest in his sermon from beginning to end. Usually 
he concluded with a peroration of great power and beauty. 
Often it took the form of an impassioned and telling appeal, 
full of rugged eloquence, of thoughts that breathed, and words 
that burned. 

He would sometimes take up an emblem, and work out his 
thoughts with astonishing cleverness. I remember one sermon 
in which the railway train was his figure of speech. The grace 
of God in the heart was the steam and the motive power, and 
the Christian was the steam-engine. The Christian's life on 
earth was the railway, and each succeeding year of his life was 
a station on the road to heaven. He pictured a young man 
going immediately after his conversion like a fast train with 
few carriages and plenty of steam. Then, as he grew older, 
the cares of business, the anxieties of his worldly duties, and 
his increasing infirmities were so many extra carriages added 
to the train to hinder its progress. But God gave more grace 
to bear a bigger load, so that the train made good progress still. 
At length the last station was drawing near; the red light of 
the distance signal could be seen, and the devil mounted the 



brake-van, and screwed down the brake to stop him on heaven's 
threshold. Will he win ? or will he fail ? God gives more 
grace, and just as the fate of the dying saint seems trembling 
in the balance, the unseen porter Death uncouples the engine, 
and it runs triumphantly into the heavenly station, while the 
train on the incline outside runs back and bruises the devil's 
head. All this, told with dramatic fire and energy, drew from 
his congregation loud responses of ' Hallelujah ! ' and ' Glory ! ' 
He often told a story with dramatic power, and held his 
audience breathless and spell-bound. At the close of a sermon 
one Sunday evening his peroration was a picture of the gradual 
loss of spiritual life and power that comes over the backslider. 
His text was : ' Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed 
lest he fall' He imagined a model Christian in that congregation 
— a man of wealth, intelligence, piety, and power; and there 
were many such in the town. Then he pictured a council in 
hell. He had the arch-fiend meeting his imps, as they returned 
from earth, and asking them where they had been and what 
they had done. Three of them said they had been to that 
town, and had made sure of three drunken outcast reprobates 
there. 'Is that all?' asked the arch-fiend with withering scorn; 
' any fool can catch and ruin such poor souls as these. But 
you must fly at higher game. There is Mr. So-and-so, a great 
man among the Wesleyans there. He enjoys the blessing of 
sanctification ; he prays three times a day; he leads two classes; 
he is the finest man in the town. Go and spread your nets 
round him, and don't show your ugly faces here again till you 
have got him securely in your toils.' They go and follow that 
good man to chapel, and to business, and to market, and to 
his fireside. They waylay, and tempt, and disappoint him for 
seven years, and then return to hell and report to the arch- 
fiend that they have run him down from praying three times a 
day to praying twice. There is a wild shout of joy in hell as 
the three imps are sent ,back for seven years more to run 
him down to praying only once. They bother him in his 
business till his temper becomes irritable ; they crowd upon 
him misfortunes of every conceivable kind; and at the end 
of fourteen years return to report that his fire is almost out, 


he prays but once a day, and has lost his former power and 

They are sent back again for seven years more, to run him 
off entirely. Increasing business claims and increasing infirmi- 
ties are not covered by increasing piety and power with God. 
The fire burns out, and at the end of the third seven years 
they return to hell and report that they have effected his ruin, 
and all hell resounds with their wild shouts of laughter and 
applause. But the arch-fiend sternly silences their hilarity, 
and says to the three imps, ' Why did you leave him ? You 
have given him time to repent and seek for mercy. Go back 
again this moment and fetch him ! Get him in a railway 
collision, or frighten his horse and throw him from his trap. 
Fetch him ! Fetch him ! ' 

A low wail of horror rose from the congregation as he stamped 
his foot and cried, ' Fetch him ! ' There was a cry for mercy 
from some conscience-stricken soul that told how surely the 
shaft had found its mark^ and I have reason to believe that 
several of his wealthy hearers took home some truths that night 
they never forgot. It is many years since I heard that out- 
burst of rugged eloquence and vivid imagery, but I have a keen 
appreciation of it to this day. 

Another of his magnificent perorations was ' the whirlpool.' 
He pictured in vivid and realistic language the mighty mael- 
strom off the coast of Norway on a bright summer's morning. 
The sun shone above it, and the wild sea-birds hovered over 
it with lazy wings, and the fishermen sailed with their fishing- 
boats to the fishing-ground. All nature was beautiful and 
lovely, and a stranger would never suspect the terrible danger 
of that dreadful whirlpool. It was only when the hardy fisher- 
men became so engrossed in their work as to be unmindful of 
their surroundings that the real danger began. The boat 
drifted with the tide, for there was scarcely wind enough to 
fill her sails, and the fishermen plied their lines and hooks 
incessantly, till their frail bark was well within the outer 
circle of that dread whirlpool. Still they noted it not, till 
she was carried with ever-increasing speed from the outer 
circles to the smaller inner circles of the mighty maelstrom, 


and they were aroused by the sound that came from the 

"With a wild cry of horror they seized their oars, and tried 
to turn her head away from the place of doom and row against 
the stream. They pulled till the sweat stood in bead-drops 
on their foreheads, and their muscles were swelled like whip- 
cord in their arms ; but the silent resistless current swept them 
on to their doom. They dropped their anchor, and paid out 
every yard of rope ; but they could find no anchorage to prevent 
them from drifting. Nearer and swifter they drifted round 
and round the narrowing circles, till their eyes started from 
their sockets with fear and their hair turned prematurely grey. 
Then with one loud cry of despair they took the fatal plunge 
and were lost for ever. 

Then came the whirlpool of iniquity. The bright and happy 
and sinless ones were enjoying life's morning and attending 
to life's duties. Soon they began to drift into little sins and 
trifling delinquencies. A little duty neglected, a small task 
undone, or a slovenly and careless way of doing the duties of 
the day, indicated that the mischief had begun already. Then 
came other signs of drifting away from God's service and His 
house ; and these were followed by open and unblushing sin, till 
the sinner was fairly in the charmed circle, and he knew it not. 

Faster and faster he drifted to the doom of the wicked in 
spite of the preacher's efforts to rouse him, and in that heedless 
crowd who were going to death the cry of warning was scorned 
and disregarded. The little children were drifting, and the 
parents were drifting, and the old men with grey hairs were 
drifting, but they neither saw nor knew their danger. Soon the 
end must come, and with one long despairing .cry of anguish 
they would take the fatal plunge. 

We must save them ! We will save them ! God loves them. 
Jesus Christ redeemed them. The Holy Spirit pleads with them. 
Heaven is prepared for them. Satan shall not have them. 

4 Why should the foe Thy purchase seize ? 

Remember, Lord, Thy dying groans : 
The meed of all Thy sufferings these, 
O claim them for Thy ransomed ones ! ' 


The effect of this peroration was sometimes awful. Men 
and women would faint and have to be carried out, and the 
whole congregation would be terribly excited. The sketch I 
have given is a mere outline, and conveys but a very poor idea 
of the wealth of language, and vividness of imagery, and 
realistic power which he displayed. 

Perhaps the best - known peroration was given with his 
sermon on ' Pulling them out of the Fire.' I never had the 
opportunity of hearing it, but others have described it to me 
as something grand and awful. He preached it in one of our 
Lancashire towns at a time when mill fires were very common, 
and his hearers had seen some terrible scenes of risk and 
danger ; but a very intelligent man who heard the sermon told 
me that the effect of the preacher's language was far more ter- 
rible to him than the most appalling conflagration he had ever 
seen. That sermon was simply resistless. It carried all before 
it. Xo man of human sympathies could possibly have heard 
it and remained unmoved. 

He was an actor as well as a preacher. His looks and his 
gestures were often more eloquent than his words. A stamp 
of his foot, or a wave of his hand, or an expression of scorn in 
his face, would produce a profound impression. He would suit 
the action to the word so completely that his hearers would 
be charmed and spell-bound as if they were under mesmeric 

His manner was therefore as telling and powerful as his 
matter. But with all his power he never allowed himself to 
be unduly severe or unkind. In open-air services, and when 
opposed by bad men, he could employ a keen, biting, withering 
sarcasm that was always effective ; but he preferred to be droll 
and humorous and kindly. With the intellectual and oratorical 
powers of a giant, he had the tenderness of a woman and the 
gentleness of a child. 

He had no ambition to be 'a popular preacher;' his highest 
ambition was to be useful. It was emphatically true of his 
preaching: 'The common people heard him gladly.' He was 
never in more request than in the latter years of his life, and 
perhaps never more useful. His mission \va? to ' preach the 


Gospel to the poor,' and he had no special liking for Gothic 
chapels, and frigidly respectable congregations, though he did 
not object to go where duty called. 

On one occasion he was invited to conduct special services in 
a chapel where the worshippers were comparatively wealthy, 
and had been accustomed to a refined and cultured ministry. 
I confess I felt uneasy about the results. I knew that if he 
offended their sense of propriety, all chances of success among 
certain classes would be thrown to the winds ; so I played the 
part of a candid friend and forewarned him. He evidently 
commenced the Sunday-morning service under a sense of great 
responsibility, and his opening prayer was one of great earnest- 
ness and fervour. He wrestled with God for a blessing, till 
some sympathetic soul in the congregation ventured to say 
' Amen ! ' Under ordinary circumstances the offender would 
have been marked and remonstrated with privately. But judge 
of the enormity of the offence when Mr. Marsden opened his 
eyes and said, ' Thank God for that " Amen," but it is a cold 
one ! ' Then, resuming his prayer, and throwing his whole soul 
into it, he drew responsive ' Amens ' from every part of the 

He sometimes had what he called ' a hard time.' His sermon 
would be carefully prepared, and logically arranged, and full of 
choice emblems and beautiful illustrations, and perhaps his 
hearers would be charmed and delighted with it ; when, all at 
once, and without a moment's warning, he would say or do 
something that would astonish and startle his hearers beyond 
measure. I remember once, when he was preaching the sermon 
on the house of Obed-edom, and his hearers were spell-bound 
by its simplicity and power, he shut the Bible, and said, ' Let 
us pray.' Then he prayed that if there was a manufacturer 
there who was too busy making money to serve God, the Lord 
would burn down his mill, cause his bankers to fail, call his 
creditors together, and make him a bankrupt, but save his soul. 
He prayed for the cattle plague and all sorts of disasters to 
overtake the wordly-minded men who needed such discipline 
for their spiritual prosperity. The immediate effect of this 
strange conduct was to offend and to grieve a few of his 



hearers ; but the ultimate effect was to fill the chapel almost 
to suffocation for the next service. 

I confess I would rather hear him for my own edification 
and spiritual profit when he had a bad time than when he had 
a good one. His worst times to himself were often the best to 
his hearers, because he would not indulge in eccentricities or 
wild flights of fancy. 

His eccentricities were always remembered when his 'noble 
and disinterested deeds were forgotten. There are thousands 
who remember a jocular remark he made, or a biting sarcasm 
he uttered, or a peculiar and perhaps unwise thing he did, 
without taking the trouble to see things as he saw them. He 
did not preach to please men ; he preached to save them. And 
if souls were not saved, nor backsliders reclaimed, nor believers 
sanctified, he regarded the service as an insult to his Master, 
and a delusion and a snare to his own soul. 

At the request of several ministers and friends, I give an 
outline of his sermon on, ' Behold, I stand at the door, and 
knock.' He preached this sermon at Preston, and used the 
pulpit door to find the bolts and screws and bars that kept it 

A Royal Visit. 

' Behold, I stand at the door, and knock : if any man hear 
My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will 
sup with him, and he with Me.' — Rev. iii. 20. 

Laodicea was the Preston or Manchester of those days. It 
was a centre of manufacture and trade and commerce ; and it 
gathered round it the wealth, intelligence, and prosperity of 
those times. Its inhabitants were successful business men, 
like your wealthy cotton manufacturers, bankers, and mer- 
chants. They stood high in social position, and could afford 
to indulge in dress, amusements, luxuries, and pleasures beyond 
the reach of others. The trade in linen and bullion had made 
them 'rich and increased with goods, and having need of 
nothing,' so far as temporal things were concerned ; but spiritu- 
ally they were ' wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, 
and naked.' 


The Church at Laodicea was a type of many of our wealthy 
Churches to-day # When trade is good, and you are making 
money fast, you can build new chapels and preachers' houses, 
and pay off old debts on your premises, and hold bazaars and 
fancy fairs, and put up new organs, and engage popular 
preachers, and try to make the devil believe you are a pros- 
perous Church. But you can't deceive him with all this out- 
side show. He looks in at your class-meetings, and finds only 
two or three members present. He comes expecting a prayer- 
meeting after the preaching service, but he finds the organist 
playing the ' Hallelujah Chorus ' and the people trooping home. 
He comes to the week-night preaching, and finds a congrega- 
tion of half a score, and a cold, lifeless, formal service. He 
knows right well you are dying of respectability, and he won't 
waste his time tempting you. He will let you alone, and go 
to some other church where he can do more mischief. 

But there comes a message from the King, by the word of 
His servant. He has sent me as His herald to prepare the 
way and announce His coming. 

' Behold ! ' You know what a stir there would be in your 
town if the Queen or the Prince of Wales were coming next 
week. You would have a general holiday that day. All work 
would be suspended. You would decorate the streets with 
flags, and banners, and triumphal arches, and you would all 
turn out to greet your sovereign. You would think of nothing 
else, and you would talk of nothing else but the royal visit for 
many a day. There would be no need to send the bellman 
round to remind you what day to leave your work and give 
heed to the royal visit. 

But when your King and Lord comes to claim the homage 
of your hearts and to pay you a royal visit, you receive His 
message with coldness and indifference. Nobody goes out to 
meet Him with shouts of welcome or hearty cheers. You treat 
Him as the people of Alsace and Lorraine treated the Emperor 
of Germany and the Crown Prince after the Franco-Prussian 
war, when they pulled down their blinds, and locked and 
bolted their doors, and sat in gloomy silence as the Emperor 
passed. They had some excuse for refusing to see him, as 


they were a conquered people, and his presence reminded 
them of their humiliation and defeat. But there is no excuse 
for you. You are rebels and traitors against your lawful 
King, and I come in His name to proclaim an amnesty and 
beseech you to be reconciled to Him. Awake ! Arouse ! 
Behold ! While I speak, He is coming. He is here. 

' At the door ! ' Is He as near as that % Then He can hear 
my cry ; then He is ready to help. Some of you have thought 
that the plan of salvation is a very complicated and difficult 
matter. You have said : ' God is in heaven ; how can He 
hear and save me?' The Lord is nigh thee — at thy door — 
within thy reach — waiting for thy call. Xay, He is more 
anxious to save thee than thou art to be saved. He has called 
at thy door, but thou hast shut the door in His face. He is 
outside patiently waiting, but with thine own hands thou hast 
locked, and bolted, and barred, and barricaded that door. He 
might by His own almighty power smash that door to atoms 
and overwhelm thee, but He will never force thee to surrender. 
If He is ever to be thy King, it shall be with thy consent and 
approval. If thou art ever to be blessed with His favour and 
presence, thou must open that door. 

' Knock.' Hark ! He is knocking. He knocks at the door 
of that child's heart as gently as the tap of a clockmaker's 
hammer. If you listen very attentively, you may interpret that 
gentle knock. It says : ' They that seek Me early shall find Me.' 
' .Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them 
not.' ' 1 am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.' But there are 
some of you that stopped your ears, and would not heed those 
loving, gentle knocks of mercy in your childhood. You are 
now in the full vigour of youth, and again the Saviour knocks ; 
but this time it is louder and more authoritativelv, like the 
sharp clear knock of a carpenter's hammer. It says : ' My son, 
give Me thy heart.' ' Ye will not come unto Me, that ye might 
have life.' 'Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.' 
' ^ e must be born again.' There are some of you that have 
disregarded all these warnings and invitations, and you are now 
in middle age unsaved, and still the Saviour knocks. But the 
knocking now is terrible as the blow of a sledge-hammer. God 


has appealed to your affections and your religious instincts, 
your reason and your judgment ; now He makes an appeal that 
ought to be effectual. He takes away the pride of your heart 
and the joy of your life at one fell stroke. I see some of you 
are in mourning; you have the marks of death upon you. 
You stood by the open grave, and looked for the last time on 
the face of your loved one. You felt that your loved one had 
withered like grass, and vanished like smoke, and there came a 
solemn terrible knock that said, 'Prepare to meet thy God/ 
' How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation ? ' ' Give 
an account of thy stewardship.' 

There is an old sinner here who has disregarded all these 
knocks, and has just heard a call terrible as the blow of a 
Xasmyth steam-hammer. Fell disease laid you low, and for 
weeks your life was trembling in the balance. Your business 
fell into confusion. You made bad debts and suffered heavy 
losses. God touched your purse and your person, and still you 
would not yield. Now He is saying to you, ' Because I have 
called, and ye refused ; I have stretched out My hand, and no 
man regarded ; but ye have set at nought all My counsel, and 
^vould none of My reproof : I also will laugh at your calamity ; 
I will mock when your fear cometh.' It is the last knock you 
will hear from Him. He will say to His messenger, Death, 
' Cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness : there 
shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' Do you say you will 
repent ? Then cry to Him now, before He leaves you for ever : 

' Stay, Thou insulted Spirit, stay, 

Though I have done Thee such despite, 
Nor cast the sinner quite away, 
Nor take Thine everlasting flight. 

Though I have steeled my stubborn heart, 

And still shook off my guilty fears, 
And vexed, and urged Thee to depart, 

For many long rebellious years ; 

Yet, O ! the chief of sinners spare, 
In honour of my great High Priest ; 

Nor in Thy righteous anger swear 

To exclude me from Thy people's rest/ 


'Open the door.' You say, 'I can't.' Why, what is the 
matter with it ? 0, it is like this pulpit door, fastened in the 
inside. I may shake it for ever so long, but it won't open 
unless I draw the bolt. Why, what can be the matter with 
this door ? How is it fastened ? I find a screw here. 0, you 
put that screw in. Your father died without a will, and you 
were the eldest son ; so you administered, and took all the 
property. You gave your widowed mother just enough to keep 
her out of the workhouse, and your younger brothers and 
sisters were left to shift for themselves. But the God Who is 
the Father of the fatherless and the Judge of the widow 
marked that transaction, and recorded it against you in His 
book. You will have to restore your ill-gotten gains, and give 
up what you got dishonestly, if you mean to pull the screw out. 
There is another man here, who failed in business and paid 
five shillings in the pound. He borrowed money from 'the 
widow, and the fatherless, and him that had no helper ; ' and 
as soon as he got his discharge from the Bankruptcy Court, he 
snapped his fingers at his creditors, and made a greater show 
and stir in business than ever. He will have to pay the other 
fifteen shillings in the pound before that screw can be pulled 
out. Dishonesty and selfishness must go out if the Lord Jesus 
Christ is to come in. 

' Open the door ! ' What is the matter with it yet ? Here 
is a nail — a big, strong, tenpenny nail, and it is a clumsy con- 
trivance of yours to fasten the door. When the Lord asked 
you years ago to open the door and let Him come in, you said : 
' 0, I don't need salvation. I am as good as most professing 
Christians, and better than many.. I will take heed to my 
ways, and live a moral, upright, honest life.' So your self-right- 
eousness and pride barricaded the door, and kept the Lord Jesus 
Christ out of your heart. If you do not humble yourself before 
God and confess your sins, He will not have mercy upon you. 
He will pass you by, as he passed the proud Pharisee of old, 
and He will visit the conscience-stricken publican who cries : 
'Cod be merciful to me a sinner.' 

' ( )pcn the door !' Is it fast yet? Yes, it is barred by prejudice. 
You arc fond of having your own way. You would not object 


to be saved, if you could have salvation on your own terms and 
according to your, own desires. Naaman went to be healed by 
the prophet with a prescription of his own, and when he found 
the Lord's way so different from his own way, ' he turned and 
went away in a rage.' You cannot make up your mind to come 
to the penitent form, and publicly confess Christ before men, 
but you hope to be saved on the quiet, and slip into the Church 
without either men or devils knowing it. You had better draw 
the bar, and open the door, and let the Lord save you in His 
own way, and on His own terms. 

'.Open the door ! ' What is the barrier now 1 It is locked 
by your strong self-will. God has appealed to you by His Word, 
His servants, His Spirit, and His providence. He has threatened 
you with all the terrors of 'the wrath to come.' He has up- 
braided and reproached you for your wilful rejection of Him. 
You might have been saved years ago, if you had been willing 
to submit and repent. 

1 Nay, but I yield, I yield ! 
I can hold out no more ; 
I sink, by dying love compelled, 
And own Thee Conqueror.' 

' Open the door ! ' Xay, it is bolted by unbelief. You will 
not take God at His word. You will not believe that God says 
what He means, and means what He says. You make God a 
liar, and insult Him to His face. You must repent of your 
sins, and cast yourself on His mercy. Let your cry be : ' Lord, 
I believe : help Thou mine unbelief.' And when you cease 
from your own works, and cast away your selfishness and pride, 
your prejudice, self-will, and unbelief, the barriers will be re- 
moved, and your Lord and King will come in. 

' I will come in.' An empty house is better than a bad 
tenant. The old tenant made a sad mess of the house. He let 
it run to rack and ruin. He allowed it to be defiled by sin, 
and to become a nest of unclean birds. But, 

1 When Jesus makes my heart His home, 
My sin shall all depart ; 
And lo ! He saith, I quickly come, 
To fill and rule thy heart ! 


Be it according to Thy word ! 

Redeem me from all sin ; 
My heart would now receive Thee, Lord ; 

Come in, my Lord, come in ! ' 

When He comes in, the strong man armed will be cast out, and 
the heart that has been defiled by sin will be purified, and 
become a temple of the Holy Ghost. 

' And sup with him.' We have no spiritual food to offer 
Thee, Lord. We cannot set a table before Thee worthy of 
Thy acceptance. We have nothing but the bread of affliction, 
and water mingled with our tears. W r e have tasted of bitter- 
ness and anguish and sorrow, and we are unworthy that Thou 
shouldst come under our roof. ' Well,' He says, ' it is poor 
fare, but I will not despise it. I will bear your griefs, and carry 
your sorrows, and help your infirmities. I will sup with you.' 

Hallelujah ! He that wept with Mary and Martha at the 
grave of Lazarus will sympathise with you. 

' He knows what sore temptations mean, 
For He hath felt the same.' 

' And he with Me.' Some of the kings of England used to 
test the loyalty of their wealthy subjects by paying visits of 
state with their servants and attendants. Many a nobleman 
has been compelled to impoverish himself by providing on a 
magnificent scale of hospitality for the king and his retinue. 
But when our King comes, He brings His own provisions with 
Him. He spreads our table right royally, for He provides like 
a King. He feeds our souls with the bread of life. All the 
promises of His Word, both for the life that now is, and for the 
life that is to come, are given to us. There is no want to them 
that fear Him. When He comes to sup with us, it is farewell 
poverty, and hardship, and want! He makes us kings and priests 
unto God. We sit with Him in heavenly places. We become 
His children, and entitled to all the protection, love, and care 
lie bestows upon His family. He lifts us from the dunghill, 
and seats us by His side. 

' How can it be, Thou heavenly Kinpr, 
That Thou shouldst us to glory brin- ? 


Make slaves the partners of Thy throne, 
Deck'd with a never-fading crown ? ' 

' Behold, I stand.' When a man sits down and makes him- 
self at home, you know he is not likely to move in a hurry. 
But if he stands with his hat on his head and his staff in his 
hand, you expect him to go very soon. The attitude of the 
Saviour in my text is very suggestive. He is not there without 
a solemn purpose. If you open the door, He will come in. 
But if you remain impenitent and heedless, He will go away 
and leave you. He may go away now, never to return again. 
Your salvation may be now or never. Accept Him while you 
have the chance. ' Behold, now is the accepted time ; behold, 
now is the day of salvation.' 

Then followed a grand and solemn peroration, in which he 
pictured angels and devils watching with intense interest the 
terrible possibilities resulting from that sermon. The knocking, 
lingering, loving Saviour outside was pictured to the life. 
Then the dalliance of the soul with sin, and its trifling with the 
awful realities of eternity, and the fearful risks involved in such 
conduct, were painted in language that fairly made the flesh 
creep, and almost made men shriek with horror. It was such 
a powerful, telling sermon as no mere words can describe. Its 
effects were seen in the voluntary surrender of many sinners to 
Christ during the prayer-meeting that followed. 



I have met with many persons who regarded Mr. Marsden 
as a mere copyist and a retailer of other men's ideas. They 
seemed to think that he did a large business with a very limited 
stock in trade, and a very small capital. 

Those who knew him best will be able to testify that he had 
a masculine mind, of great originality, and poetic or creative 

A Wesleyan minister who knew Mr. Marsden intimately for 
many years, thus speaks of his mental power and intellectual 
ability : 

' He loved the works of the masters in mental science. His 
well-stored carpet-bag usually contained some of their choicest 
and most recent productions ; and such works as those of Sir 
William Hamilton, Dr. M'Cosh, and others of a similar char- 
acter, were perused with intense avidity. When drawn out by 
favourable circumstances, he could display mental resources of 
no ordinary value. On one occasion, at the meeting of a 
literary society, when preceded by a noble lord of high 
.ability, he proceeded to discuss problems of deep significance 
with a mastery so complete, and an eloquence so masculine, as 
to astonish the audience, and call forth repeated expressions of 

' The local preachers of the Doncaster Circuit were wont to 
meet for a social repast and conversation or discussion of an 
improving class. At one of these meetings the theory of 
Bishop Burnet on an ideal world formed the subject of discus- 
sion, and the masterly address given by Mr. Marsden marl,? 

128 M&iMlAL FUWEK. 

a profound impression on his brethren, and indicated the wide 
range of his intellectual pursuits. 

' Some of his "mission speeches were delivered under favour- 
able circumstances, and were distinguished by a masterly 
exposition of the principles suggested by the theme. A mar- 
vellous meeting, held amid the ruins of Conisborough Castle 
near Doncaster, was attended by a large multitude of earnest 
Yorkshire Methodists. Mr. Marsden gathered round him a 
band of praying men, and with strains of holy melody they 
made the welkin ring. Then, looking round on the grey 
crumbling walls and ancient towers of that castle, around which 
the associations of so many centuries had gathered, he seemed 
inspired. The ruins and decay of the old castle were types of 
the decline of idolatry and superstition, and the fresh foliage 
and flowers of that glad summer's day foreshadowed the new 
life and beauty of these Gospel days. He engaged in fervent 
intercession for the destruction of idolatry and the universal 
reign of Christ, while the warm responses of multitudes told 
how fully their hearts were in unison with his own.' 

He had not only the poetic or creative power, as I have 
already shown, but he had the gift of exposition and illustra- 
tion in a high degree. He had a lecture on ' The Model Wife,' 
founded on Proverbs xxxi. 10-31, that was deservedly popular. 
In that lecture he gave a masterly exposition of the Scripture 
language, showing an intimate acquaintance with the etymology 
and derivation of the words, and displaying traces of careful 
study and diligent research. Then he brought out and focussed, 
one by one, the strong points of the character of this model 
wife — her piety, her modesty, her industry, her charity, her 
intelligence ; and conveyed some sterling truths in such a form 
that they would never be forgotten. The shrewd common-sense, 
the practical wisdom, the genius and spirit of religion, which 
he displayed in that lecture, won for him golden opinions and 
well-merited applause. 

He had also a lecture on ' The Model Husband,' as a com- 
panion picture to ' The Model Wife ; ' but he had not the same 
scope in it for the display of his mental powers and ability. 
His lecture on ' The Dignity of Labour ' was an able exposure 


of the shams and fallacies that mislead and beguile working 
men. He raised the humblest task and most menial duty to a 
privilege and a means of blessing, when done in a right spirit. 
His illustrations were pointed and powerful, and were received 
by thoughtful men with admiration and delight. 

He had a remarkable lecture on ' The Economic Aspect of 
the Sunday-School Question.' Starting with the objection that 
Sunday-schools cost a great deal, and produce but small results, 
he proceeded to argue that their indirect results are worth all 
they cost to the community. He entered into a mass of figures, 
compiled from the most trustworthy sources, showing the 
number of Sunday-schools in England, the number of scholars, 
the cost of maintenance, and the average cost for each child. 
Then he supposed that next Sunday every school would be 
closed, and the children left to do as they pleased. They would 
trespass on the fields of the farmer, they would damage the 
property of the nation in various ways, they would soil and 
tear their own clothes, and they would involve their parents 
and friends and the public in serious financial loss. Taking a 
very moderate estimate of these various sources of loss, he easily 
proved that if there were no religious teaching at all, as a matter 
of national and social economy alone, it would never pay us to 
close our Sunday-schools. 

He had not only the poetic or creative power, and the gift 
of exposition and illustration, but he had considerable logical 
and argumentative ability. 

He had a leeture'on 'The Love of Human Applause a Motive 
to Virtue,' founded on Matt, xxiii. 5, 'But all their works 
they do for to be seen of men.' In this lecture he argues that 
' a love of glory is sufficient to produce all those virtuous actions 
that are visible in the lives of those who profess religion. 1 

1. The noblest of the heathen often excelled in particular 
virtues. The chastity of Scipio — the liberality of Augustus — 
the severity of Cato — the integrity of Fabricius, all came from 
a desire to be famous for these virtues. In professors of religion 
the glory of God is not always the commanding, producing 
principle of their best actions. The Pharisees outwardly did 
all that a good man might do — gave God solemn service — wera 



frequently at prayer — gave alms — sat in the seat of Moses — 
taught better than they practised — were full of zeal — compassed 
sea and land to make one proselyte. Such a reputation had 
they among men that it was said : ' If only two men are saved in 
the world, one of them will be a Pharisee.' Yet all their motive 
was 'to be seen of men.' So Christians in all ages have had 
in their ranks men who had not goodness enough to be religious. 
They were different inside from outside. They loved fame and 
praise and position. Their motive was ' to be seen of men.' 

2. Because there is nothing visible in the very best actions, 
but may proceed from the very worst principles, if acted with 
prudence, caution, and design. A concern for reputation will 
keep a man virtuous. There is no external discrimination of 
the hypocrite from the sincere person. What one does, the 
same is done by the other* A stone shot from a sling, and a 
bird flying through the air, have both motion ; but one is the 
motion of lifeless matter, received from the hand of a living 
agent; and the other is voluntary, of itself, from an inward 
life. The one is violent and unnatural ; the other is natural. 
A touch of ambition may supply the room of a better principle, 
in those outward instances of virtue that shine only on the 
surface of men's lives, yet are sufficient to attract the attention 
of those who can look no farther. We know designs inferior 
to these have produced a show of piety and outward moral 
rectitude. The love of gain — the lowest and basest motive 
that can be found — has made many a man a hypoeiite ; but 
the love of glory is as much above the love'of gain as the mind 
of Cassar was above that of a cowherd. 

3. And yet the love of glory is a proper pleasure of the 
mind. It may be defined as that complacency which a man 
finds within himself arising from his conceit of the opinion 
that another has of some excellency or perfection in him. 
Pride is the opinion whieh a man has of his own perfection. 
Glory is the pleasure he takes from the opinion that another 
has of it. Dionysius used to say of his parasites and flatterers, 
that though he knew that what they had said of him was false, 
yet he could not but find himself pleased with it. And while 
glory enamours and delights men, disgrace afflicts and distresses. 


Hence it is no wonder that acquiring the one and avoiding the 
other should so potently command our actions. For what are 
our actions but the servants of our appetites? Nobody is in 
pain to-day because his head ached a month ago, but it is 
otherwise with the afflictions of dishonour. Wherever they 
fasten, they leave their marks behind. Dishonour is a pain not 
to be slept away — a scar not to be worn off. It is a fit emblem 
of hell — pain, irksome and perpetual. A man will do anything 
to secure his honour and reputation — that is, to live while he 
is alive, and not to be the scorn of the world. 

4. The love of glory is founded on the innate desire of 
superiority that is in every man, and it is the great instrument 
of life to have a fair reputation, and really opens the way into 
all the advantages of it. All the accommodations of life — 
power, wealth, offices, friends — are often derivable from the 
good opinion which men have procured themselves by the out- 
ward and seeming piety of their behaviour. 

5. The love of glory is not a sufficient motive to engage 
mankind in virtuous actions without the assistance of religion. 
Virtue and good life determine not in outward practices. A 
man may act like a saint before men, and like a devil before 
God. And, on the contrary, he may appear but mean out- 
wardly, and yet be all glorious within. Virtue and vice are 
the perfection and pollution of the soul. The principle of 
glory governs a man's actions entirely by the judgment and 
opinion of the world concerning them. 

6. Even those actions that a love of glory does produce are 
of no value in the sight of God. They are deficient in respect of 
their producing cause, which should be a real love of virtue ; and 
they are deficient in respect of the end to which they are directed. 
The end is self, whereas it should be the glory of God. 

I make no apology for inserting the outline notes of the 
foregoing lecture. They will convey to the reader a better 
impression of Mr. Marsden's mental power than any descrip- 
tive matter of my own, and they will confirm the statements 
I have made. 

In addition to the lectures already named he had thought- 


ful and weighty lectures on ' The Universal Law of Progress ; ' 
' The Moral Causes of Bad Trade ; ' ' The Three Grandest Pillars 
of the Universe;' 'The Democracy of Christianity;' 'The 
Human Face/ and ' The Hooks and Eyes of Society.' These 
lectures were the result of much reading, thought, research, 
and labour ; and were masterly and popular expositions of his 
religious, social, and political principles. 

In his later years, however, he became so absorbed in his 
preaching and evangelistic work that he never gave a lecture 
willingly. If his friends put considerable pressure upon him, 
he would oblige them, though he always felt that he ought to 
have been making better use of his time. 

He had the same objections to lecturing as to preaching 
fine sermons. They pleased and instructed and amused his 
hearers, but they brought no sinners to Christ, and produced 
no spiritual results. Hence, if he allowed himself to be cajoled 
into a lecturing tour, he would repent of his bargain before he 
was half through it, and growl and grumble at the folly that 
permitted him to yield to persuasion against his better judg- 
ment. Here is a characteristic growl of this kind : 

' I have been going out of my ordinary course, out of great 
respect to some of my dear friends. They are trying to raise 
^iooo, and I have been giving lectures in most of the leading 
places in the circuit. They have had me hard at work every 
night, and will keep me at it till Thursday. Methodism here 
is very low, and the people generally are poor and feeble. I 
have never heard a really good voice, nor seen a really good 
face, since I came to this place. They have not a spark of 
the lion about them. Last night I thought and felt as if the 
people were as slow and stupid as so many donkeys. I shall 
be glad when next Friday comes, for I have made a great 
mistake. My calling is preaching the Gospel and saving souls, 
and sticking to one place during my stay ; and I mean to stick 
to my own work in future.' 

And so he would, till some poverty-stricken circuit got at his 
heart instead of his head, and successfully appealed to his 
sympathies instead of his judgment. 



I invited Mr. Marsden to spend two or three weeks at my 
house and engage in evangelistic work in our village. He 
accepted my invitation, and thus gave me an opportunity of 
observing his home life. 

When he entered the door, he cordially shook hands with 
me and my wife, and, standing bare-headed in the hall, gave 
us the apostolic benediction: 'Peace be unto this house.' He 
took baby from the nurse's arms, gently kissed it, and pro- 
nounced a solemn blessing : ' The Lord bless thee and keep 
thee ; the Lord make His face to shine upon thee, and be 
gracious unto thee ; the Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, 
and give thee peace.' He then shook hands with the servant, 
and spoke a few kindly words to her that won her sympathy 
and admiration. 

At the table his conversation was free and unstrained. He 
made himself a member of the household, and shared all the 
family joys and sorrows. He could be as playful as a kitten, as 
loving as a father, and as wise as a sage. He never thrust his 
religious opinions offensively in the household, but he won the 
esteem of all the family by his meek and Christian spirit. 

As soon as the meal was ended, he would push back his 
chair from the table, and, before you were aware of it, he would 
kneel down to return thanks. Sometimes he would mention 
almost every dish on the table as matters of thankfulness for 
(rod's wise and wondrous providence. I have heard him 
thank God for fetching the tea from China, the sugar from the 
West Indies, the rain from the oceans of earth and air, the 
cream from the animal world, and the bread from the vegetable 


world, and concentrating them all on my table. And as the 
magnitude of God's forethought and wise providence impressed 
him, he would say, ' Hallelujah ! ' and he would expect me to 
say, ' Amen.' 

Then he would pray for every individual by name in the 
household. If any of them were unconverted, special mention 
of their needs would be made to God, but in such language as 
could never offend them or drive them from the Saviour. He 
always kept a warm place in his affections for the children, and 
the sweetest and richest prayers used to be reserved for baby. 
I have even heard him mention the kitten and the dog, as 
included in the household, and as claiming a share in God's 
good providence. 

If any visitors had been invited to meet him at the table, he 
always remembered them individually and prayed for them 
with wondrous kindness and sympathy. These prayers and 
thanksgivings never occupied more than three or four minutes, 
and then he rose to his feet and resumed the thread of his 
conversation, or retired to his study. 

These prayers and thanksgivings in the family were often 
wonderfully blessed in their results. He was once entertained 
Tty a widow lady with seven or eight young children. Her 
husband had died a short time before, leaving his estate in the 
hands of executors, who were disposed to treat her unfairly. 
He made diligent inquiries about the settlement of her affairs, 
and found that if the executors were disposed to be hard and 
unkind, they had the power to inflict great injustice and wrong 
under the powers of the will. The only power that could 
touch them was the Spirit of God ; so he knelt with the widow 
and orphans beside the table, and prayed that God would touch 
the secret springs of these men's hearts and dispose them to 
deal generously and kindly with the family. He prayed so 
fervently and so believingly that his prayer was answered, 
and the widow received considerable financial help, and her 
affairs were placed in such a position that she was able to bring 
up her family in comfort and respectability. 

He not only enjoyed the hospitality of the friends, but 
preached the duty and privileges of hospitality, and practised 


what he preached. His own house was ever open to entertain 
those who loved and served the Master, and he counted it an 
honour and privilege to receive a stranger in the Master's 

During the excitement of the last connexional agitation, the 
ministers had been informed that they could no longer receive 
the usual hospitality or find a home in a certain town. So he 
went and preached ' a sermon for the times ' from the words : 
' He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall 
receive a prophet's reward.' , In that sermon he traced the 
privileges of hospitality from the remotest times, and showed 
how God's people had often entertained angels unawares. He 
convinced his congregation that ' it is more blessed to give than 
to receive,' and at the close of the sermon there were many 
families competing for the honour of entertaining the messengers 
of the Gospel. 

From the numerous letters I have received it is clear that 
many of our people have reckoned it a very high privilege to 
entertain Mr. Marsden. One gentleman said to me recently : 
' While he was at my house, all my children were converted ; 
and he taught them to pray every night and morning : " God 
bless Mr. Marsden." They have prayed that prayer regularly 
ever since ; and though they are now big boys and girls, and 
know that he is dead and gone to heaven, they cannot find in 
their hearts to leave him out of their prayers. They pray for 
him still. ' 

His love for the little ones and his anxiety for their con- 
version were remarkable. He gave me the names and addresses 
of young children, from five to seven years of age, who were 
converted, and rejoicing in the love and favour of God. He 
used to pray for them every day, and they used to mention 
him in their prayers. 

I believe lit.*, found his way to many a home and many 
a heart through his influence with the children. I know 
families who would never dream of entertaining a revivalist 
under ordinary circumstances, yet who gave him a cordial 
welcome on account of his power over the little ones. Some 
of these young lives have been cut short, but as long as they 


lived he sent each of them a kind letter or a card with a 
suitable text of Scripture on their birthday or at Christmas. 
Some of his most touching letters are to be found at this 
moment locked up in careful keeping with a tress of golden 
hair or the portrait of a loved and lost one. These kind notes 
and cards are highly prized by bereaved parents, whose lambs 
are now in the Saviour's bosom, and whom there is nothing to 
remind of the little saints but the faded treasures and withered 
leaves they left behind. 

There are many cases on record where every member of the 
household — father, mother, sons, daughters, man-servants and 
maid-servants^gave their hearts to God through his visit to the 
household, and became consistent and pious Christians. 

He did not lightly give up the object on which his heart was 
set He had been made a great blessing to a certain family, 
and in the course of one of his journeys he met with a brother 
whom he had never seen before. He had heard of him, and 
often wished to see him, that he might seek his spiritual good. 
There were three or four other gentlemen in the same compart- 
ment of a second-class carriage, but this fact did not prevent 
him from preaching Christ to the gentleman he had been seeking 
%o long. In a letter to me, describing the interview, he told 
me how they had sweet and profitable conversation together, 
and how they kneeled down and prayed in the ^carriage before 
they parted. 

When he had promised to accept the hospitality of a friend, 
nothing but a serious illness would prevent him from fulfilling 
his engagement. He would break faith neither with his friends 
nor with the public, if he could help it. Some years ago I had 
been preaching anniversary sermons in the Grassington Circuit, 
and as I drove home with the Rev. John Booth he told me the 
following characteristic story illustrative of this statement. 

He said that one Saturday evening Mr. Marsden reached his 
house utterly exhausted. He had a quinsy in his throat that 
would have kept any ordinary man in bed for some days. But, 
rather than disappoint a congregation, he had travelled by train 
and coach till he was quite worn out. Mr. Booth prepared a 
foot-bath of mustard and hot water, and applied hot fomenta- 


tions to his neck and throat, and chatted so cheerily that Mr. 
Marsden quickly rallied from the cold and exhaustion. ' I'll 
tell thee what, Isaac,' said Mr. Booth, ' thou hast taught me to 
sing one verse of Wesley's hymns that I could never fully 
realise till to-night.' ' What verse is that?' he asked. 

• O might my lot be cast with these, 
The least of Jesu's witnesses ! 
O that my Lord would count me meet 
To wash His dear disciples' feet ! ' 

Mr. Marsden laughed so heartily that he burst the quinsy, and 
was able to preach next day with his usual power and success. 

During his visit to my house we saw little of him except at 
meal-times. No matter how early we rose, he would be hard 
at work in his study. I had a rather select library, and he was 
very fond of the company of my authors. He diligently read, 
and took copious notes, and filled his carpet-bag with the glean- 
ings of my library. His notes would be of little use to any one 
but himself, as he used many hieroglyphics and signs that 
nobody else could understand. He was singularly well informed 
on a great variety of subjects for a self-taught man. He could 
talk intelligently about chemistry, botany, animal physiology, 
astronomy, geology, history, physical geography, and mental 
science. He was a most interesting companion, a shrewd observer 
of men and things, and a diligent worker. 

When summoned to breakfast, or dinner, or tea, he would 
lay aside his studies and join us at the table in a chatty, agree- 
able mood. He would take the greatest interest in domestic 
matters, and act and speak as one of the family. As soon as the 
meal was ended, he would push back his chair, fall upon his 
knees, return thanks and pray, and in a few minutes afterwards 
return to his studies. 

In the early part of the day he prepared his sermons, lectures, 
and speeches, and stored his mind with intellectual food. Ho 
spent some time in prayer and meditation, thus preparing his 
mind and heart for the duties of the day. After breakfast he 
would spend a few minutes in reading the newspapers, and 
informing himself of what was going on in the world around 


him. Then he would take a walk among my neighbours, to 
find out what sgrt of people they were. He had many amusing 
adventures among the ignorant and degraded classes, and some 
that were inexpressibly sad and distressing. These recon- 
noitring expeditions would be the subject of conversation over 

"VYe had either a very early or a late dinner, that he might 
have time to give a short address at the dinner-hour to the 
workpeople. These addresses were delivered in the open air 
if the weather was fine, or in the workshop when it was 

The afternoon would be spent in correspondence, reading, 
meditation and prayer, to prepare himself for the long and 
exhausting work of the evening. The first service, from seven 
o'clock to half-past, would be held in the open air — generally in 
the market-place, or some centre of a dense population — for 
the purpose of gathering a congregation. A hymn would then 
be sung, and they would adjourn to the chapel for the ordi- 
nary service. 

Thus his whole time and attention would be given to his 
work. He had a mission, and he diligently and conscientiously 
attended to it. Sometimes he would regret that his duties 
took up so much of his time and attention. Thus I find him 
writing to one kind host, who was about to entertain him for 
two or three weeks, in these terms : 

1 1 keep close to my studies, and I like to be alone. I am 
at home in my studies. I have no liking for dinner-parties. 
I can do with a chat at tea and then be free and easy, but as 
soon as breakfast is over I long to be off into my room to my 
books and papers. Life is short, and I feel I have not five 
minutes to spare. 

' It will be a long time for me to remain in one house. You 
will long for quietness days before I am gone. You will have 
a rare good wife if she does not complain and chatter about it. 
Well, perhaps she is the better of the two. If she is like my 
wife, she is, and no mistake ; for she lets me do as I like, or 
nearly so, and I do the same with her. She is all order, and 
I am all disorder : so we agree very well. 



' I have no doubt I shall be comfortable, but I shall want to 
make you so too. I am so habituated to live in storms, that 
what is grand order with me is often disorder with others, 
especially in the domestic circle. I am often out late at the 
chapel; it was ten o'clock last night — the communion was 
well filled with inquirers ; and this is the manner of my life, 
and has been for nearly half a century. How can I change ? 
In the daytime I am much alone in my study, preparing for 
storms, or for war with the prince of darkness ; for wherever I 
go I meet with that prince. If you think he is in your town, 
we had better all be prepared, or he will conquer every man of 
us ; and then what would our enemies say 1 Let us make sure 
of victory by the blood of the Lamb.' 

The most striking feature of his home life was his all- 
pervading piety. He literally prayed without ceasing, and in 
everything gave thanks. Religion seemed to be the one 
absorbing, commanding principle with him. It had his atten- 
tion first, and last, and always. And my experience of him 
is confirmed by all I hear from those who have entertained 
him in other places. 

The Rev. George Buckley says that on New Year's Day, 
1 86 1, he and Mr. Marsden were at Hayle in Cornwall, and 
had a walk over the sand-hills by the seaside to a place called 
' The To wans.' The day was remarkably fine and mild for 
the time of year ; and while Mr. Buckley was quietly enjoying 
the beauties of the romantic scenery, and trying to make out 
the ships in the distance, his, friend most mysteriously vanished. 
He looked round for him, and called aloud, but could find no 
trace of him. At last he heard a voice singing : 

1 Rock of Ages, cleft for me, 
Let me hide myself in Thee.' 

Guided by the sound, he espied a large cleft or aperture in 
a huge rock overlooking the sea, and found that Mr. Marsden 
had hid himself in this rock to muse and meditate, and spiri- 
tualise the scenery and its surroundings. From the rocks t hoy 
descended to the sea-shore, and, finding the sands dry and firm 
and that all was lonely and quiet, they knelt together and 


prayed for a special blessing on that bright New Year's Day. 
And such a jjrayer he offered as Mr. Buckley had never 
heard ; for in the strength of the blessing they received they 
went to pastoral visitation and evangelistic work with great 

Another gentleman writes : ' I have had the honour and 
pleasure of entertaining Mr. Marsden, and I treated him with 
the highest esteem and respect. I never knew a more devoted 
man of God. His one end and aim in life seemed to be to 
save souls. He was a most interesting, genial, and instructive 
companion, and I dearly liked his society. His varied stores 
of information and experience were willingly laid out for the 
benefit of those who entertained him. I got more good under 
his preaching, and from conversation with him upon spiritual 
subjects, than I ever got from any other man. Sometimes he 
gave utterance to statements which appeared fallacious and 
paradoxical, but which upon calm consideration were seen to 
be well founded, because they were well grounded on the un- 
erring, infallible Word of God, in which he was so well versed. 
He thoroughly despised all shams, and he did not care to trim 
and polish his sentences, either in preaching or in private con- 
versation, to please simpering misses or spruce dandies. I 
have heard him from the pulpit pour such a fire of red-hot 
shot upon the brainless dandies and flippant coxcombs, that I 
have thought it would surely cause their eye-glasses, rings, and 
tawdry ornaments to be abolished for ever. After one of his 
short characteristic addresses at a prayer-meeting in our chapel, 
in which he gave his views about dress and ornaments in 
particular, a young gentleman stood up, and, pulling out the 
gold studs from his shirt front, said he would never wear such 
things again after what he had heard. He wished the preacher 
to take them into his own possession, and either sell them and 
apply the proceeds to some charity, or make the best use of 
them he could, as he was resolved henceforth to lead a life of 
great simplicity and self-denial. At first Mr. Marsden refused 
to take the studs, and treated the matter rather humorously ; 
but, finding the young gentleman deeply moved and terribly in 
earnest, he smilingly took the studs, and said he should perhaps 


some day show them at a similar service and relate the incident 
for the benefit of others. 

' Several years have elapsed since this little incident occurred, 
hut the young gentleman who relinquished his studs gave up 
everything for Christ, became a successful evangelist, and is 
now doing noble work for God in various parts of the country. 
Many young men and women who were won over to the service 
of Christ during Mr. Marsden's labours amongst us are now the 
most earnest workers in the Church.' 

Another gentleman says : ' There was a man in our village 
whom Mr. Marsden ardently longed to see converted. He used 
to speak to him at the services, and visit him at his home, and 
the man was strangely impressed and powerfully affected, but yet 
he successfully resisted the strivings of the Spirit and the appeals 
of the preacher. Mr. Marsden used to say : "I have tried several 
times to worry him, and could not kill him ; but I shall not 
give him up." The last time he came to our village to preach, 
shortly before his death, he spoke rather despondently about 
the man's conversion, and was grieved that he did not see him 
at the service. So he went to the house and opened the door, 
but could find no one at home. He called aloud, but received 
no response, except a few words from a parrot in a cage. So 
he knelt beside the hearth in the man's house, and prayed 
most fervently for the man's conversion. Then he closed the 
door after him, and came to tell me what he had done. As he 

left us for the last time he said : " Tell Brother 1 have been 

praying for him in his house, but I had nobody to say Amen 
but the parrot." Since his death that man has given his heart 
to God, and joined our Society, and seems likely to become a 
useful Christian.' 

Another correspondent says : ' I am very glad that you are 
writing a memoir of our departed friend, who did such good ser- 
vice in the Lord's vineyard. Mr. Marsden was a great favourite 
with the children here. He called them his Hallelujah boys and 
girls, and invariably made it a rule to invite them to his services 
to sing " Hallelujah " for him ; and the eager interest which 
the little ones displayed, and the affectionate regard they had 
for the old man, were very touching. In going to a service he 


would have a crowd of children about him, and I never saw 
any of them v?\o could resist the combined effects of his genial 
smile, his loving homely ways, his interesting and original style 
of talking to them, and his " butter-scotch." At the close of 
his series of services he would have a " bun-feast," or " an 
apple-feast," or "an orange-feast," so that at his departure he 
filled the young, children's minds with a bright and pleasing 
recollection of him. He told my little children to call him 
"grandpapa Marsden." As an instance of the abiding hold he 
got of the children's affections, one of the last names mentioned 
by my little girl, who died a short time after he had been 
staying with us, was that of our dear departed friend. It appears 
that during his visit on one occasion the child had not complied 
with his request that she would sing " Hallelujah " for him ; 
and now, remembering her old friend, she gasped out with great 
difficulty : " Tell grandpapa Marsden that though I wouldn't 
sing ' Hallelujah ' for him when he asked me, I will when I see 
him again." Our little lamb never saw him again on earth, 
but no doubt by this time she has redeemed her promise and 
sung " Hallelujah " with him in their heavenly home.' 

The testimony of another friend who entertained him is : 
' He first stayed at my house nearly forty years ago. At our 
Sunday-morning service he gave us a very powerful sermon 
from the words : " Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee," 
&c, and held a prayer-meeting at the close of the service. In 
driving home to dinner we overtook a young lady and her 
father, and invited them to dine with us. The father declined, 
as he had duties at home, but desired his daughter to go with 
us to dinner. As soon as dinner was over, we held a love-feast 
in the dining-room, but we soon had to turn it into a prayer- 
meeting ; for the young lady who had dined with us began 
crying for mercy, and was soon made happy in God's love, and 
many of us were wonderfully blessed. In the evening the 
young lady's father and at least a dozen more of our congrega- 
tion were converted. At our afternoon meeting in the dining- 
room my youngest sister obtained the blessing of entire sancti- 
fication, and lived a very holy life, and died a triumphant 
death. After her death we found secreted in an old pocket- 


book the following memorandum: "Sept. 8th, 1844. — This 
has been a high day to my soul. About twelve persons found 
peace with God after two very powerful sermons preached by 
Mr. Isaac Marsden of Doncaster, and one of my female friends 
obtained the blessing of pardon during the afternoon in my 
brother's house, where we had a very powerful prayer-meeting. 
We were quite an hour on our knees at one time, some pleading 
for mercy, and two at least for perfect love. Having lost my 
evidence of this great blessing, I thought, ' If Christ by His 
blood can wash away the sins of my friend, He can by the 
same blood cleanse my heart from all unrighteousness ; ' and I 
was enabled to take Christ as my Eedeemer, my Sanctifier, my 
all in all, and to rejoice in Him exceedingly."' 

From another letter I extract the following : c Sixteen years 
ago I was saved from a reckless career and converted to God 
through the instrumentality of Mr. Marsden. The vow I then 
made to the Lord is still unbroken, and I am still in God's 

So I might continue the testimonies from every part of the 
country. Wherever he went, his conduct and conversation in 
the homes of the people made a deep and abiding impression. 
He would have no frivolity, or foolish and unprofitable con- 
versation. He would not listen to idle gossip, and he would 
not endure slander. And yet he had nothing mournful or 
repulsive about him. His religion never made him gloomy, or 
morose, or disagreeable. He was as sunny, and light-hearted, 
and cheerful as a schoolboy out for a holiday. He brought 
sunshine into the house when he came, and the blessing of the 
Lord came with him. If he ha.d never done anything else but 
dwell for a few days in Christian homes in each circuit in 
England, he would have lighted altar fires, and brought whole 
families to Christ. His power in the family was as great as 
his power in the pulpit. It is said there is a skeleton in every 
house, and a black sheep in every flock ; and he took care to 
seek the stray wayward sheep and bring them back to the fold. 
In scores of instances he has been the peace-maker in family 
strife, and the healer of domestic wounds. He has followed a 
wayward daughter or a rebellious son, and dogged their steps, 


and worked and prayed for their conversion for months and 

His secret labours will never be known, because charity must 
draw a veil over the private life and secret sins that cost him 
so much time and labour. 

Often in the evening, when he stayed with us, we sat up 
till midnight in interesting and profitable conversation. Some- 
times the ministers of the circuit and a few of the leaders 
would have supper with us, and then hold a council of war, 
discussing our plans and purposes and modes of working with 
great animation and profit. In these conversations he was 
always ready to receive hints and suggestions from others, and 
in return gave us the benefit of his wide experience. 

Sometimes we drew him out in conversation on the success 
of his mission in different parts of the country. The story 
sounded like a continuation of the Acts of the Apostles. He 
had visited dense populations in large towns without the means 
of grace and the opportunities of worship, and preached in the 
streets till a room of some kind could be found to house the 
infant church he founded. Then he told of miracles of mercy 
among the neglected outcasts, and of brands plucked from the 
burning, till our souls were strangely warmed by the good 
tidings. He would tell the story of his own conversion and 
early career as a preacher and evangelist. He would describe 
the abject condition in which he first met men and women 
who became his spiritual children, and tell how they had been 
raised to positions of usefulness and respectability. Then he 
would fall down on his knees and pray that power from on 
high might rest upon each of us, and that every service we 
conducted might be a Pentecost, and that the devil's kingdom 
might be mightily shaken. 

Thus the days flew by in peace and holy joy. The guest 
was our priest ; the home was a temple ; and the blessing of 
the Lord that came with him lingered with us long after he 
had left us. 



For many years Mr. Marsden's mother was in delicate health. 
She suffered at times acute bodily pain, and lingered long in 
extreme weakness and debility. 

The home at Skelmanthorpe had been broken up, and the 
whole family had settled in Doncaster, so that they were now 
one united family. 

His mother's sufferings called forth his liveliest sympathy. 
His love for her was most touching and tender. He would 
never start on a journey without going into her room and 
praying most earnestly for grace and strength for her to bear 
her afflictions patiently. And as soon as he returned he would 
throw the reins on the horse's back and rush to her bedside to 
thanjk God she was yet alive. He would often say : ' Lord 
Jesus, Thou hadst a mother ; Thou didst love Thy mother, and 
I love my mother. Spare her to me yet a little while, and 
fill her soul with Thy Divine love.' So he would talk with 
God and' plead for hours by her bedside, and the richest bless- 
ings would descend on both mother and son. 

She was a confirmed invalid for some time, and medical 
skill could not 'relieve her sufferings or take away her pain. 
Still she meekly and patiently bore her affliction, for her con- 
fidence in God never failed. Sometimes the consolations of Hi> 
grace were very sweet and precious, and she was enabled to 
triumph in the Lord. 

But the end of her conflict came at last. On Tuesday, August 
3i8t, 1847, 8ne died in peace and triumph. He compared her 
last hours to. the capture of a citadel by a resistless foe. The 
outworks were carried by storm, and fell one by one into the 



enemy's hands, till the last stand was made in the citadel 
within, but after a short siege it surrendered and all was lost. 

To the last she retained her intellectual faculties. She knew 
her end was approaching, for death laid his icy hand on her 
extremities and gradually advanced towards her heart. All the 
family gathered round the bed, watching her dissolution. As 
long as her voice lasted she shouted, ' Victory, victory, through 
the blood of the Lamb ! ' and when her voice failed, a heavenly 
smile lingered on her features. She died in the full assurance 
of faith, at the age of sixty-five. 

Her death made a profound impression on Mr. Marsden. 
Writing on September ist, 1847, ne savs : 

'This is a time of much weeping. My dear mother was 
released from all her" sufferings yesterday morning at ten minutes 
past eight. For twenty years she has suffered much affliction, 
but since last October it is impossible to describe her sufferings. 
Her pain was awful, and yet her courage failed not. Often she 
rejoiced in the Lord with shouts of victory, and clapping of 
hands, and songs of praise. But all these shouts of victory 
never frightened death out of the field. He marched steadily 
on, and captured the outworks/and entrenchments, and one for- 
tification after another, till he got to the citadel of her heart, 
and then all was over. And yet she is the victor. She has 
had a glorious triumph. She has fought a good fight ; she has 
pursued her course to the : end; and she has kept the faith. 
Now she wears her crown, and sings the song of triumph through 
ihe blood of the Lamb. 

" may I triumph so, 

When all my warfare's past ; 
And, dying, find my latest foe 
Under my feet at last ! " 

Then shall we be eternally united and happy before the throne 
of God.' 

He gathered the members of the . family together after her 
funeral, and sought to maintain the family union that was in- 
danger of being severed by her death. Speaking of that family , 
meeting, he says : 'I have given myself afresh to God, with , 


every member of the family, praying that God may make us 
all children of His family ; that we may love and cherish each 
other all our days ; that God may dwell with us ; and that His 
cloud may lead us, and His manna feed us, until we all arrive 
in our Father's house above.' 

His mother's piety t had been so remarkable, and her life had 
been so holy and devoted to God, that the Wesleyans of Doncaster 
and Skelmanthorpe desired to recognise her worth by holding 
a memorial service. Forty or fifty years ago these services were 
conducted with great solemnity and impressiveness, and were 
the means of gathering immense congregations. 

As soon as arrangements could be made, the memorial service 
was held. Mr. Marsden insisted on preaching the sermon 
himself, as he said that no one else would or could do justice 
to his mother's sterling piety and worth. The funeral sermon 
was remarkably solemn and effective, and resulted in the con- 
version of several of his hearers. 

The next few years were spent in hard and exhausting work. 
He took his share of the business, and attended all the fairs 
and markets, received orders, delivered goods, collected accounts, 
and worked almost day and night to promote the interests of 
the family. In addition to business engagements, he preached 
three times every Sunday, and almost every evening in the 
week besides. He strained his voice and relaxed his throat 
by incessant preaching and praying in public. He had little 
sleep, and less relaxation, for years. He never had a holiday 
or a day of rest. When he was exhausted, he refreshed him- 
self by a change of employment. 

In one of his preaching journeys he was entertained at the 
house of Mr. Robert Barker, a respectable farmer at Burton- 
on-Stather, close by the banks of the silvery Trent. Here he 
formed a casual acquaintance with his future wife. Miss Mary 
Barker, second daughter of Robert and Sarah Barker. She 
was about a year his senior in age, and a lady of superior 
talents and ability. This acquaintance soon ripened into affec- 
tion, but there were two barriers to their marriage. He had a 
responsible position as virtual head of his own family, not 
relieved by the death of his mother and the second marriage of 


his father. She had to consider the welfare of her father and 
the comfort of his home. It was not till August, 1854, that 
they were married, about a year after the death of her father. 
They were strangely unlike, and yet wonderfully fitted for 
each other. He was large and strong as a giant. She was 
below the medium height, ladylike and, feminine. He was 
rash and impulsive. She was cool and calculating. He was a 
great reader. She was a thinker and a worker. He roamed 
abroad. She was happy and contented at home. He lived 
only to save souls. She kept a home for him, and ministered 
to his comfort and sympathised with his work. They were 
fitted for each other like locks and keys, or hooks and eyes. 
They would neither of them have done singly what they did 
unitedly. He was a grand man, and he had a grand wife. 
She toned down his extravagance, and criticised his state- 
ments, and helped to mould his opinions. If he had married 
her twenty years sooner, he would have been in some respects 
a better man ; and while the Christian Church reveres his name 
and rejoices in his success, her self-denial and devotedness must 
not be forgotten. 

It was well that he married a wife with tastes and aims 
similar to his own. She was a class-leader and a successful 
worker in the Christian Church, and is deservedly esteemed for 
her work's sake. And she rejoiced in her husband's success, and 
encouraged and helped him to the utmost. 

I spoke just now of her self-denial, and a little reflection 
will put this matter in a very clear light. Their home after 
marriage was in Priory Pkce, Doncaster, close to the Wesleyan 
Chapel. She had a right to his presence, and protection, and 
society, at all times when he was not called away from home by 
the claims of business. And yet she freely and willingly sacri- 
ficed her own claims that he might accept the calls of the 
Church. He scarcely ever spent a Sunday with her from New 
Year's Day to Christmas, and most of his evenings were occu- 
pied in preaching. or lecturing. I have met many people who 
have thought what a fine thing it must be to lead the life of a 
popular preacher and lecturer ; but they had never seen the 
other side of the picture — the long journeys, the late hours, 


the hardship and exposure, the irregular meals, the damp beds, 
and a host of other inconveniences which other men escape. 
But I seldom meet with any thoughtful woman who would 
like to marry a popular preacher and take the consequences. 
She would have a wholesome dread of the long, lonely evenings 
by her own fireside, while her husband was charming and 
delighting the multitude. She would picture to herself nights 
and days of solitude, depression and sadness, which she must 
endure without murmuring or complaining, for the good of 
others. And yet Mrs. Marsden freely and willingly agreed that 
his marriage should not interfere with his evangelistic work. 

Shortly after his marriage he found himself in such comfort- 
able financial circumstances that he could afford to retire from 
business entirely, and leave it to the other members of the 
family. It had long been a daydream of his to be unfettered 
from the cares and anxieties of business, and free to devote 
himself entirely to his mission work. 

After much consideration and prayer, he severed his con- 
nection with his father's business, and from this time he devoted 
all his talents and efforts to the good of the Church. He usually 
left home with his carpet-bag on Saturday morning, and his 
wife saw him no more till the following Thursday or Friday. 
If possible, he would be home to meet his class on Friday, but 
he would be off again on another journey on the Saturday. 
Sometimes he took long journeys to the South of England, or 
some distant part of Wales, and then he would be away two 
or three weeks. 

He would write home every day brief, affectionate letters to 
his wife, but she was deprived of his society and protection 
for the good of the Christian Church. And yet she cheerfully 
and contentedly accepted her lot, and discharged her duties, 
with a single eye to the glory of God. So these two servants 
of the Lord Jesus Christ patiently toiled for the Master year 
after year, with marvellous success and unvarying regularity. 

In domestic life his loyalty to Christ and his. devotion to 
His service were just as conspicuous as in his public ministry. 
Nothing could ever lead him for one hour to forget the claims 
of God. Religion was the chief topic of his conversation and 


the great theme of his studies. He might be diverted from it 
for a moment £>r two, just as a mariner's compass may be 
influenced by another magnet; but he swung back again 
immediately to the pole-star of his soul, the Lord Jesus Christ. 

A characteristic story is told of his efforts to do good both in 
season and out of season. Doncaster race-week is famous among 
sporting men all over the country, and thousands of gentlemen 
hire rooms for a week in the town to attend the races. There 
is consequently a great demand made upon the private houses 
in the town, as all the hotels and inns are crowded to their 
utmost capacity. A gentlemanly stranger rang at the door one 
morning, and requested the servant to ask if they could accom- 
modate him with a bed-room and sitting-room for the race- week. 
Mr. Marsden, who was busy writing in the parlour, heard all 
that passed at > the door; and when the servant brought the 
stranger's, inquiry, he said : ' No, Mary ; ask the gentleman if 
he ever says his prayers.' 

Such random shots as these were often made a great blessing 
to others, and many cases have occurred where important spiritual 
results have followed. 

During many years of his busy life at Doncaster the vicar 
of the parish was the Kev. C. J. Vaughan, D.D., afterwards 
Master of the Temple and Dean of Llandaff. Though Mr. 
Marsden was a decided and devoted member of the Wesleyan 
Methodist Society all the days of his religious life, he was a 
great admirer of learning and spirituality everywhere. Dr. 
Vaughan was his beau ideal of a clergyman of the Church of 
England ; and he not only greatly admired and highly esteemed 
him, but he used to pray for him by name. And when honours 
and promotions came to the good vicar, nobody more sincerely 
rejoiced that Dr. Vaughan was counted worthy to be called up 
higher, though he was afraid that the spiritual life and power 
of the parish church at Doncaster would suffer by the change. 

I have heard him describe Dr. Vaughan's parish work with 
great admiration and approval, and speak in the highest terms 
of his learning and piety. And I think it only fair to his 
memory to testify that his love for spirituality and holiness was 
strong enough to overleap all the bounds of sects and parties, 


and to recognise a true brotherhood among the servants of the 
Lord Jesus Christ of every name and creed. Knowing the 
esteem in which Mr. Marsden held the Eev. Dr. Vaughan, I 
sent a copy of my earlier Reminiscences to him, with a request 
for any special information that might be in his possession; and 
I received from him the following courteous and kind reply : 

'Llandaff, June 12, 1882. 

' My dear Sir, — I am grateful to you for recognising me as 
a friend of the late Mr. -Marsden of Doncaster. I knew and 
respected him, but my opportunities of seeing him personally 
were few, and I have no such reminiscences of him as 
would add anything to the life-likeness of your own faithful 

' I thank you much for the instalment which you have kindly 
sent me, and wish all possible success to your larger work in 
his memory.— Sincerely yours, C. J. Vaughan.' 

Mr. Marsden's love for aggressive evangelistic work induced 
him to take a great interest in the origin and establishment of 
the Salvation Army. He went to London, and gave the Army 
the benefit of his experience and actual service for a short time. 
He generously contributed to its funds, and persuaded many of 
his friends. to do so. He took a number of copies of the War 
Cry every week, and distributed them judiciously among those 
friends who would be likely to help the movement. 

In one of his letters to a friend he speaks of the Eev. 
William Booth as ' a spiritual child ' of his, and pleads for his 
friend's support and help. I sent a copy of the letter to Mr. 
Booth, and received a very courteous reply. Perhaps the best 
way of stating the case will be the publication of the letters. 

'16, Priory Place, Doncaster, Jan. 11, 1876. 

* My dear Brother, — A spiritual child of mine — the Eev. 
W. Booth, of London, who established and has sustained a 
mission among the lower classes and slums and strongholds of 
darkness — has been many years at the work, and great good 
has been done. I went some years back and gave him a week ; 


so I had some experience of his work. The work is sustained 
by voluntary subscriptions or gifts of friends. I now and then 
send him a subscription. I sent him one about a fortnight 
ago, and I named you to him. I thought the work would have 
your sympathy. You will excuse me naming you to him, 
won't you 1 I told him he might make use of my name to you. 
I enclose a paper of his, which was enclosed in a personal letter 
to me, thanking me for the gift, and wishing me to go and 
assist him when I can and as long as I can. Love to all. — 
Believe me your old and very affectionate friend, 

'I. Marsden.' 

' The Salvation Aemt Headquarters, 

' ioij Queen Victoria Street, London, E.C., 
'June 5, 1882. 

' Dear Sir, — In reply to yours : I shall never forget the 
words I first heard from Mr. Isaac Marsden. I was walking 
out one evening with two Wesleyan friends at Nottingham 
when I was fourteen years of age. Mr. Marsden was con- 
ducting special services at the "Wesleyan chapel, and at that 
time no one could hear him, that had any belief in the great 
% truths of the Bible, without being deeply impressed and stimu- 
lated by him. 

'We entered the chapel late — in the dusk — and I could 
hardly see the speaker ; but just at that moment he was saying, 
" A soul dies every minute." The thought made me cringe, 
and I have little doubt that but for my two friends I should 
have stayed that very night and given God my heart. It was 
not, however, till some time after this that I decided for 

'Mr. Marsden showed himself a friend to our work till the 
very last. — Yours faithfully, William Booth. 

'J. Taylor, Esq.' 

The domestic peace and family blessedness of the home at 
Doncaster were not interrupted by any serious illness till the 
middle of July, 1877. Then Mr. Marsden met with an acci- 
dent that caused him to be laid aside for about three months. 


His devoted wife nursed him with ceaseless care and attention, 
but it was a sore trial to him that he was unable to follow his 
beloved employment. In a letter to a friend, expressing his 
regret that he was unable to fulfil his appointment, he says : 
* When I was a boy, I used to tie a string to a bird's foot and 
hold it so that it could not fly away. Providence has now 
hold of me by the foot. May the Lord loose the string and 
let me go ! ' 

But though the Lord did not at once loose the string and let 
him escape, He came into the cage to him and blessed him 
abundantly. The following letter testifies to the sweetness of 
his religious experience at that time : 

' March 8, 1878. 

' My dear Brother, — Last July I had a fall which lamed me 
severely, so that I was confined in bed three weeks, with my 
right leg in a stock, and confined at home some thirteen weeks. 
I fear I shall be lame all my life, but I feel no pain, and I 
can walk on level ground tolerably well, and move to and fro, 
so that I can go out preaching, and have been east, west, north, 
and south. Have been little at home this year. 

'Returned to-day from Brigg Circuit, and had one of the 
most glorious weeks in my life. Chapel well filled every night, 
and Sunday and last night crowded. Many have got good. 
Seldom have I seen so many married people come forward 
without any person going to invite them. I was nearly four 
hours at work last night, and should have remained had I not 
been engaged for Sunday. 

' My affliction had its use and produced great benefit. I am 
not aware that I murmured a single thought. Jesus Christ was 
very precious. I was brought to examination and close criti- 
cism of my life. what a Saviour I found ! Not one foot 
of ground had I to stand upon — no, not a grain of sand. I was 
saved just here : "Jesus died for me — rose again for me; " and 
it was all Christ ; and Christ was all in all to me. I was well 
paid for my thirteen weeks' confinement. Jesus was very 
precious. The Word of God was very rich to my soul ; and 
I got such a lot of new sermons — they grew faster than I 


could get them — but sermons of another order than I used to 

' I formed the habit of praying for your family from the first, 
and continue it. I wonder if ever you pray for me. My 
prayer for you is special every day. I hope you are useful and 
strong to labour. 

'Keniember me to your dear wife and children, and may 
God bless you all. Amen. — Yours very affectionately, 

'I. Marsden.' 

About two years afterwards Mrs. Marsden was seriously ill 
for some weeks, to the great agony and distress of her husband ; 
but in answer to his prayers she was restored to health and 

Let us now turn aside from the peaceful methodical life of 
the home at Doncaster to the stirring scenes of conflict with 
the prince of darkness. We may not go with Mr. Marsden to 
the battlefield, but we can take up the tidings he sends to us 
from the thick of the fray, and learn from them lessons of 
encouragement, experience, and practical wisdom. 



From the time of his acceptance as a local preacher on trial 
in 1836, to the end of 1853, a period of seventeen years, he 
estimated the number of sermons preached by him at 3370, or 
nearly four sermons a week on the average. This estimate 
does not include his addresses, speeches, and lectures on 
missions, temperance, education, and other public questions. 

When he was away from home on his missionary enterprises, 
he was in the habit of writing occasionally to his friends, 
giving brief descriptions of his work. These old letters, 
scattered up and down the country, are the best records of his 
labours. They are short descriptive messages, full of cheering 
facts, and now and then containing valuable hints to Christian 
workers. Occasionally he gives a brief summary of his year's 
work, or a list of his future engagements. 

So far as I have been able to verify the statements made in 
these old letters, they are simple statements of fact, as seen and 
recorded at the time. They are free from exaggeration, pride, 
and boastfulness, and were never intended for publication ; but 
they are such faithful and graphic accounts of the work done 
that I cannot improve them. 

I will therefore stand aside and let him tell the story in his 
own words. 

'Doncaster, December 31, 1854. 

' Glory be to God, I am yet alive. I am still on my way to 
the kingdom. 

'This year I have preached at Askern, Barrow (Lincoln), 
Bawtry, Barrowford, Blackpool, Brierley (Barnsley), Burslem, 
Castleford, Cotgrave (Notts), Chesterfield, Conisborough, 


Cuckney, Douglas (Isle of Man), Edenfield (Haslingden), 
Farnsfield, Gra^sley, Haworth, Hatfield Woodhouse, Howden, 
Horncastle, Hyde, Kneesall, Kirton, Kearsley (Bolton), Kim- 
berworth, Keighley, Market Easen, Mow Cop, Masborough, 
Manchester, Maltby, New Mills, North Kelsey, Padiham, 
Preston, Bough Lee, Scrooby, Skelmanthorpe, Sutton-in-Ash- 
field, Spalding, Thorne, Tunstall, Tottington (Bury), Tickhill, 
Ulceby, Warrington, and Wigan.' 

•Morecambe, June 24, 1855. 

'Preached here from Zech. iv. 10, and conducted open-air 
services on the beach. The Society here was very low, and 
one of the ministers proposed to abandon the place altogether 
and spend no more time or labour on such a sterile soil. But 
the Lord did not despise the day of small things. He looked 
upon us and helped us, and many were converted, and the fire 
spread to other parts of the circuit.' 

'Doncaster, December 30, 1856. 

' Another busy year has fled and left its record of work at 
Alston, Allendale, Batley, Barrow (Chester), Burton, Bingham, 
Barringham, Bonley, Barnsley, Barnethy, Blaxton, fBardney, 
Cheadle, Caton (Lancaster), Claypole, Cockermouth, Doncaster, 
Perry Bridge, Goole, Garrigill, Gainsborough, Haltwhistle, Gels- 
land Spa, Houghton-le-Spring, Hampoe, Lazenby, Ludgrave, 
Monk Pryston, Maryport, Mellor Brook, Moss, Newark, New 
Lenton, New Holland, New Botle, Badcliffe-on-Trent, Selby, 
Swannington, Thorncliffe (Sheffield), Tuxford, Woodhouse 
(Leeds), and many other places. The Lord has made bare His 
holy arm most gloriously, and hundreds of sinners have been 
saved, many believers have been sanctified, and backsliders 
have been reclaimed.' 

' I went some time ago to one of the most beautiful country 
chapels in England. I preached twice in connection with the 
opening services, but we had no collections, as the chapel was 
paid for and free from debt before it was opened. Another 
remarkable thing about it was that it was a chapel without a 


Church. There was a local preacher in the village, who holds 
a respectable position, and who earnestly desires to have both 
a chapel and a Church. Money will build or buy a chapel, so 
they raised a very beautiful building free from debt. I spent 
a week with them, and while I was there the Lord Jesus Christ 
raised up a Church for the chapel. So they will have both 
now. Glory to God for ever and ever ! Amen.' 

' The glory of our Sabbath at Darlington was such as I 
cannot describe. In the evening there was a regular break- 
ing up of Satan's camp. On our side there was no lack of 
help. All were willing to put their necks to their work. The 
meeting last night was a complete triumph. The crowd was very 
great, and the excitement at a high pitch. for more of Christ's 
spirit, and more glorious views of His word and His works ! ' 

' My visits of late have been gloriously owned of God. At 
Dunstable the Lord saved by wholesale, and there was a glorious 
moving in the valley of dry bones. I have good news from my 
last visit to the Norwich Circuit. iSTone of the friends expected 
the coming of Christ in such a way. I found by my corre- 
spondent's letter that they were cold, and I told him in my 
reply that I could not find a spark of fire in his letter. I had 
never seen him, but I formed a right opinion of him. I went 
to chapel feeling in an unusual degree the power of God, and 
during prayer the heavens were opened. While I was preach- 
ing, there was a cry for mercy, and I was enabled to summon 
all there and then to surrender to God. Many yielded up body 
and soul to God, and all trembled, and not a soul went out of 
the service. There was such a feeling of solemn awe resting 
upon us that one of them said he expected something super- 
natural coming. The conquest was great. The triumph of the 
Lamb over sin and Satan will be ever remembered by those 
who were there. They yielded, and heartily welcomed the 
coming of Christ. They worked with a will, and God blessed 
them. I left them happy in God, and with the fire rekindled. 
To God be all the glory for ever and ever ! ' 

'Good news from Birmingham. I had a working, sweating 


day with my three services on Sunday. In the afternoon the 
chapel was crowded with children and friends. Satan fought 
hard on Sunday, and our side did not fight well; yet a great 
number were seeking mercy, and several were saved. Last 
night we had great liberty. A relative of yours was put under 
arrest, and came up like a child, leaning on me, as if too weak 
to walk. The arrows of the Almighty had pierced him, and it 
was a sight to see his poor weeping face. O how he begged 
for help and cried for mercy ! About ten o'clock he found 
mercy and went home rejoicing. This will be good news to you 
and your good wife. Write to him and bid him God speed. ' 

' I returned from Lowestoft last night, where I gave them 
eleven nights in succession. The Lord has been saving by 
wholesale. Praise God for ever and ever. Amen. I have got 
good news from my last visits to Lancaster and Morecambe, 
where about two hundred have been added to the Society. The 
blessing of the Lord has also rested on the friends at Maryport, 
where over one hundred new members have been gathered in 
since my services there ; and at Alston and Gateshead similar 
results are reported. All glory to the Lamb for ever and ever. 

' To-morrow I am off to Wakefield for the Sunday and three 
following days. A few months ago I had a glorious visit to 
High Wycombe, and after that I spent a few days in London 
and preached at Kentish Town chapel. The Lord was with us 

' The Lord has been with me in preaching. Since I wrote 
you last, I had glorious success in two places. At one place a 
young woman belonging to a wicked family was with us and got 
good. Her wicked mother that night, while we were at chapel, 
was going to commit suicide, but looking down saw her child 
smiling, and that snrile, completely disarmed her of her purpose. 

' I feel a settled conviction of the necessity of a full salvation 
always, especially for pulpit work and the permanent revival 
of the Churches. The Church has for a long time been going 
down to the world, until the distinction has been nearly lost. 


The birthday of the Church was the day of Pentecost — the 
festival of the Holy Ghost. It is not the external form and 
custom, but the Holy Ghost that makes the Church really 
Christian. He is the soul that fills and animates her, and com- 
bines all her individual members into the unity of one body. 
Look at Christ's prayer, John xvii. 21-23, and try to imagine 
such a Church — without jealousy— demonstrative in its sym- 
pathy — universal in its purity — the success of one the joy of 
all. Then think of the line of " apostolic succession," and 
vou will find it typical of false lines in all the Churches — lines 
of prejudice, jealousy, pride, self-glorification, ambition, social 
position, obstinate unbelief, and hundreds of other lines besides. 
Let us follow Christ, and we shall see how He caught the dis- 
ciples drawing lines who should be the greatest, and He rebuked 
them. There is but one line that surrounds and binds us all 
together into one. 

' What do you think about it ? Shall we try to set a better 
example ? Let you and me begin just now and try, and we are 
sure to succeed by taking hold of Christ. May the Lord help 

'December 2, 1864. 

' My visit to Darlington was a very great triumph. Christ 
was Conqueror. Glory to God for ever and ever ! High and 
low, rich and poor, were brought to Christ. It was also a very 
great triumph in money. My dear friend there is like your- 
self. He looked high — high as God's throne. He had faith. 
He opened his mouth wide, and spoke with ' a full assurance : 
" A\ e shall have a good time," until the people began to believe 
it themselves. He got a good bill — large like his faith — and 
the people came forward and gave liberally. They came from 
twenty miles round to help us. 

'All the prophets and apostles were enterprising men, and 
we must imitate them if, we mean to be successful. Pray for 
the Lord to be with me and preserve me and give me every 
day ten thousand times more love and knowledge. 

' "Will you inquire if I left a silk pocket-handkerchief in the 
room where I slept? My wife scolds me about losing my 


handkerchiefs ; she says two more are missing. I should buy 
about twenty ev^ry year to keep me going. 

' Better lose all my luggage than lose my soul.' 

' I arrived at home all safe, but left my walking-stick and a 
very nice silk handkerchief in the carriage. I felt sorry about 
it, for I was determined to lose nothing. The walking-stick 
cannot be replaced, for there is a little history about it. It is 
associated with. Green Rock Cottage, and I wanted to keep it. 
Well, I can get over it by saying it was only a bit of wood, 
and the handkerchief only a few ounces of silk. You know 
what the fox said when it could not get the grapes. 

' I had a regular write last night till about one o'clock this 
morning. I was drawn out on the text : " Seest thou a man 
diligent in his business 1 he shall stand before kings ; he shall 
not stand before mean men." I wrote quite a little sermon, 
and it was a treat to spend an evening with my manuscript 

' Accept of my thanks for your great kindness and care for 
me while at your house. I love your family very much. I 
felt your house a sweet home. The Lord has honoured you in 
the gift of such a wife : " she is a crown to her husband." May 
the Lord continue her strength, and bless her a thousand times 
more than ever ! May God bless your dear children ! Give 
my love to the family.' 

'Sherborn, Dorset, Feb. 9, 1865. 

' I came into this part thirteen days ago, and leave for 
Doncaster to-morrow. I have been told that "the people of 
the South are not to be moved like those in the North." Those 
who say so know nothing about it. If a preacher comes here 
with that notion, and accommodates himself to their stillness, 
he will always see them still. Then the destroyer will take 
advantage of his stillness, and take his congregation as stealthily 
as a tiger stealing a flock of sheep. But if the Lord bids 
them of the North, "give up," and tells the South to " keep not 
back," but " bring My sons from far, and My daughters from 
the ends of the earth," they will respond. The South has 


yielded, and brought her sons and daughters from far; yea, 
such as were far from God have been brought nigh by the 
blood of the Lamb. These quiet people have been made to 
weep, and pray, and cry, and shout ; nay, some of them 
have been made to dance for joy. I have been a week at 
Yeovil, and had a glorious outpouring of God's Spirit. The 
ocean burst upon the people, and the glory of God was like 
a mighty flowing stream in every direction. Teachers, scholars, 
husbands, wives, old and young, and a host of backsliders 
were saved. 

' Is there not sin in cultivating a fear of offending a certain 
class of wealthy people who are quiet, but whose stillness is 
spiritual death ? I would rather be the brother of Amos, who 
was among the herdmen of Tekoa, than half-cousin to Amaziah, 
the priest of Beth-el, who accused Amos of conspiracy, saying, 
"The land is not able to bear all his words" (Amos vii. 10) ; 
and, " Prophesy not again any more at Beth-el : for it is the 
king's chapel" (verse 13). When chapels become sacred to 
man's ideal notions rather than to God's glory in the salvation 
of sinners, then we may expect a reminder from the Lord that 
the pride of our heart hath deceived us.' 

'Runcorn, January 18, 1865. 

* Came to Frodsham (Runcorn) last Saturday, and have been 
preaching every night since except Saturday. The glory of 
God is with us like a flowing stream among the Gentiles. The 
work has been great at Frodsham. Some of the friends called 
it " one of the wonders of the world for the Lord to save souls 
at Frodsham." The glory of God came into the midst of us 
at the services on Sunday, and mighty is the work of the Lord. 
The congregations, I am told, were far greater than the most 
popular preachers in the Connexion gather here. Some of the 
rich and wise do not understand why it is so : perhaps they 
attribute it to the ignorance of the people, that they should 
come and hear a man of no education, but of self-application. 
The Scriptures are wonderfully correct in their minute descrip- 
tion of human nature. The words uttered by Paul in reference 
to the Greeks are true in reference to some of our wealthy, 



would-be-wise Wesleyans of to-day : " Because the foolishness 
of God is wiser than men ; and the weakness of God is stronger 
than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not 
many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many 
noble, are called : but God hath chosen the foolish things of 
the world to confound the wise ; and God hath chosen the 
weak things of the world to confound the things which are 
mighty ; and base things of the world, and things which are 
despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to 
bring to nought things that are : that no flesh should glory in 
His presence" (i Cor. i. 25-29). 

* The Lord has hold of the people, and they come from all 
quarters. We are looking for glorious things to-night. Home 
to-morrow for a jubilee meeting. I have been working hard 
enough of late for two or three men. Praise God for ever for 
the wonderful strength He gives me.' 

' Undercliff, Bradford, October 25, 1865. 

' I came here for Sunday and am off to-morrow. The power 
and the glory of God rested upon me, and the effects I cannot 
describe. Last night there would be forty seeking Jesus, and 
many found Him. I had mighty power in the first prayer : 
sometimes it was awful — the glory of God so filled the place 
that I felt my very blood run chill. I told the congregation 
they must not move a hair's-breadth from the Cross, and they 
must keep to it all through the discourse. The word was with 
power, and the people bowed to the word like saplings to the 
blast of the wind. It was not man : no, no ; it was the mighty 
power of God. To Him be all the glory ! 

* Last week at Coseley, in the Tipton Circuit, Christ was with 
us gloriously every night. At Carr Lane, Bilston, on the 
Tuesday night, the Lord broke them down wholesale. The 
members looked nonplussed, and either could not pray or 
would not. Had it not been for foreign help, I do not know 
what would have been done. O never-to-be-forgotten time ! 
All glory to God and the Lamb for ever ! 

' I feel God has called me to this great work, and fields far 
and wide are opening out. There is a prospect of a rich 


harvest. May the Lord help me and sustain me, and multiply 
His power with my weakness and unworthiness. " Am not I 
a brand plucked from the burning 1 " O how hell-deserving ! 
but the Lord delighteth in mercy. Pray for me.' 

' Halifax, November 2, 1865. 

' This is one of the most glorious weeks I ever had in my 
life. Heaps upon heaps are the slain of the Lord. The chapel 
on Sunday night would have some fifteen hundred people in it, 
and only few went out when the prayer-meeting commenced. 
I had before me the vision in the thirty-sixth and thirty- 
seventh chapters of Ezekiel, and I was enabled to plead them, 
and the Lord answered them. 

' The congregations are large every night, and to all appear- 
ance there are scores of penitents. what glorious times ! I 
have been enabled to get them to Christ, and we had some 
grand cases of conversion. One man, when he had found 
salvation, threw his arms about me and kissed me, and shook 
hands with his friends, and confessed Christ to the people. 
He is an intelligent man who has travelled much. His wife 
came the night after, seeking for mercy. All sorts of people 
came, old and young ; the fine folks and the rough folks came, 
and the Lord turns none empty away. O praise God for ever 
and ever ! Amen. 

' All the preachers in the circuit work well with me and 
stay till the last. I like them to be there, and then they both 
see and hear and rejoice and become believers. There is 
another benefit : they will be able to contradict many false 
statements that get abroad even from a class of Methodists, 
that ought to be examples of truth. 

' We are looking for glorious things to-night. Sunday, I 
am for Suffolk.' 

' Doncaster, December 31, 1865. 

' My mission this year has been to Ackworth, Alkborough, 
Burneston (Bedale), Burnley, Bedale, Broughton (Brigg), 
Carr Lane (Bilston), Crewe, Coseley, Coningsby, Darlington, 
Earlsheaton, Farsley (Bradford), Frodsham, Guisborough, 


Halifax, Haughton (Hyde), High Wycombe, Holmfirth, 
Hemingway (Horncastle), Horn castle, Leek, Milborne Port 
(Dorset), Mildenhall (Suffolk), Nantwich, Runcorn, Scunthorp, 
Sowerby Bridge, Scamblesby, Silsden, Sherborne (Dorset), 
Telford, Tockwith, Undercliff Woodhouse, Wellington (Salop), 
Wolverhampton, Wadworth, Woodhall (Horncastle), Wigan, 
and Yeovil.' 

'September 27, 1867. 

* I am filled up every week this year. Dunstable, Crook 
(Bishop Auckland), Sheffield, Rochdale, Accrington, Belper, 
Mansfield, Bigley, Lofthouse, Driffield, Tow Law, and Rich- 
mond. I see I have overlooked December 15th. I thought 
it had gone with the rest, but I have several invitations for it. 
If I offer it to you first, you must say yes or no by next post. 
If you don't take it, I shall give it to Dudley. 

' I have had some glorious times of late ; souls have been 
saved by scores. May Providence give you as much of the 
earth as you can carry with safety ; and may the Holy Spirit 
give you as much of heaven as shall make you feel that this 
earth is not your home ! ' 

' Sherbuen, Durham, April 22, 1868. 

1 Crook in the Bishop Auckland Circuit surpassed all I think 
I ever saw. I preached out of doors and lectured to the 
miners in the streets, and then adjourned to the chapel for 
service. Hundreds of roughs who had never been inside a 
Wesleyan chapel in their lives followed us and listened eagerly 
to the word. There was tremendous excitement among the 
pitmen; thousands of them came to see what we had up. 
Sherburn is a mining village in a district where Lord Durham 
has about thirty coal-pits, and from all the villages round people 
came in great numbers to our services. Hundreds of souls 
were saved at my last visit in October, 1867; the chapel 
became too small for the congregations, and is now being 
enlarged, and they have added three hundred members to the 
Society, besides more than doubling the quarterly income. 
As usual, the Lord is with us at Sherburn, and souls are being 
saved every night. 


' My visit to "Welshpool and Oswestry was a God-send. At 
Welshpool they had had no souls saved for years, so that very 
few young people were members of Society. Some had never 
seen such a work before. I have lately visited Penrith, 
Skipton, and Wigan, and have had glorious times, and souls 
saved. At Wigan I preached out of doors twice. You will be 
aware of the great strike of colliers there. I had mighty times, 
but I had to pay for it by an intensified cold in my chest and 
throat. I am just getting better of my cold, though I do not 
say I paid too dearly for my success. We got a number of the 
very worst English and Irish roughs to the chapel and the 
communion rail, and great good was done. I preached to 
them in the market-place on "a great strike," and got many of 
them that night to strike against drink and the devil, and begin 
to serve God.' 

'Shipley, January 13, 1868. 

'Was at Hill Top last week. I left on Friday morning, 
fairly done up with labour and excitement after working three 
or four hours every night. The last night was one continued 
excitement and shout of triumph from the first prayer to near 
eleven o'clock. About forty penitents came up on Sunday 
night, and almost as many every night. I met numbers who 
were saved at my last visit to Hill Top, and who are walking 

' I came to Shipley last Saturday, and leave on Friday. The 
work here is very glorious. At least thirty came up on 
Sunday, and many were saved, and we had several last night. 
To God be all the glory ! ' 

' Doncastkk, Dec. 14, 1870. 

' I returned to-day from the old city of Fly, where I have 
been preaching for ten days. The whole city has been roused 
and excited, and numbers were saved. I visited the different 
hotels, and invited the commercial travellers who were staying 
there to come to our services. Twenty-five of them accepted 
my invitation, and almost emptied two of the largest hotels 
for two nights. One of the innkeepers said he wished the 
chapel walls would fall upon us, because we got his customers. 


At last he came himself and got good. The old cathedral and 
High Church pajtfy came to see what was to do. They had 
never so seen or heard of revival work before. One aged 
sinner of eighty-four got converted, and many more of all 
classes. A very great revival has begun there. Praise God ! ' 

c Donc aster, December 31, 1870. 

' My engagements this year have been at Balby, Biggleswade, 
Beeston, Beckingham, Birstal, Barnsley, Bigley, Bramham, 
(Tadcaster), Cleethorpes, Crook, Coxhoe, Carr Lane (Bilston), 
Clitheroe, Darlington, Dudley, Darnall, Elsecar (Wath), Ely, 
■Gateshead, Grimsby, Humberstone, Haxby, Keal (Spilsby), 
Keighley, Market Kasen, Marley Hill, Nantwich, Pocklington, 
Pontefract, Kawmarsh, Rook Hope (Walsingham), Sheffield, 
Sunderland, Scunthorpe, Stotfold (Biggleswade), Sheriff Hutton, 
Todmorden, Tattershall Bridge, Warble (Rochdale), Wimble- 
bury, Wolsingham, Widnes, and York.' 

* Rawtenstall, January 27, 1873. 

' I had a grand day here on Sunday. I preached three 
times, and we had a grand breaking down of opposition. There 
would be thirty or forty penitents at the communion rail on 
Sunday night, and on Monday about eighty, with nearly as 
many last night. The work of the Lord has laid hold of all 
classes ; the rich, and well-to-do, and independent, as well as 
the poor. Young and old are the saved of the Lord. 

4 The work of the Lord is great — very great. It would be in 
vain to try to describe it. The power I have in preaching is 
almighty power, given by God to feeble man. The work will 
be great to-night. how glorious I felt Jesus Christ ! Help, 
help to shout " Hallelujah !" for ever and ever. Amen.' 

Mr. W- H. Roberts, of Callington, Cornwall, gives the follow- 
ing account of Mr. Marsden's last two visits to Cornwall : 

'In the spring of 1880, Mr. Marsden was invited by the 
trustees and leaders to conduct special services at Callington. 
The Church was in a very cold, indifferent state, and we all 
felt the need of a spiritual awakening. On Sunday he preached 


two impressive sermons, and laid particular stress on the 
necessity of unity in the Church, and the importance of holy 
living, and mighty faith in the promises of God. He intro- 
duced his sweet strain, "Hallelujah," which was sung re- 
peatedly during his stay. On the Monday evening he gave us 
a very powerful discourse on "Pentecost." The power of God 
was evidently present. A very hallowed and gracious influence 
pervaded the meeting, but there was terrible resistance on the 
part of sinners. He perceived a want of co-operation on the part 
of some who were members, and he feared that they were guilty 
of unbelief. Faithfully and solemnly he warned them not to 
be a hinderance to the revival of God's work, and told them 
plainly that unless they held up his hands and were united one 
and all in the work, be would go home at the end of the week. 

'Then followed a heart-searcbing time. Many consecrated 
themselves afresh to God, and all seemed in earnest about the 
salvation of souls. For several nights this quickening and 
awakening of the Church continued, but it was not till the 
following Sunday that the full showers of blessings began to 
descend. The windows of heaven were opened, and there 
was such a melting influence that stubborn wills were subdued 
and hard hearts were broken. As cries for mercy came from, 
different parts of the chapel, the dear old saint was overjoyed. 
Tears of gladness trickled down his cheeks as he shouted, 
" Hallelujah ! Glory to God ! " The work continued, and many 
were added to the Church. 

'In the spring of 1881 he paid us another visit, when we 
were favoured with, similar results. Souls were saved, back- 
sliders were reclaimed, and believers were sanctified. His stay 
was shortened by news of the dangerous illness of Mrs. Marsden. 
Immediately on receiving a. telegram he left us for home, 
beseeching us to pray earnestly for his wife's recovery. Again 
and again appeals came through the post, asking us to pray for 
her ; and we heartily responded to his appeals. 

' It would be impossible to describe adequately the good 
resulting directly and indirectly from his visits, in the awaken- 
ing of the Church, the quickening of the leaders, and the salva- 
tion of sinners.' 


Another esteemed correspondent writes : 

'When the Eeformers left the Wesleyan chapel at Black- 
burn, and built a new place of worship for themselves, they 
took more than three-fourths of the congregation with them. 
Those who remained faithful to the old Connexion were 
burdened with serious liabilities ; and seeing no way out of 
their difficulties, they sent for Mr. Marsden. He met the 
children that were left in the Sunday-school, and by his kind- 
ness and liberality he soon gained their affection and their co- 
operation. He requested each child to get one person to come 
and hear him preach, and persuaded a few singers to sing for 
him. He then went and preached in front of the Town Hall, 
and gathered a great crowd. They sang a hymn and marched 
in procession to the large deserted Wesleyan chapel, which was 
soon packed full of people. He preached his famous sermon 
on " Pulling them out of the Fire," and the excitement of the 
penitent sinners was so great that he could not finish his 
sermon. The service was turned into a huge prayer-meeting, 
and scores were converted. From these new converts a new 
Church was formed. The meetings were continued with such 
success that we more than made up the numbers we had lost 
by the Keform agitation, and we have prospered ever since.' 

Again I learn : 

' He was invited to the Somerton and South Petherton 
Circuits. At the latter place the whole town was stirred by his 
energy and devotedness. He visited the people, relieved the 
poor, prayed with the labourers in the streets, and spoke to 
everybody he met about their souls. The chapel was crowded, 
and many sought and found mercy ; among them a gentleman 
who is now one of the most influential Methodists in the 

'At Somerton the chapel was thronged every night with 
excited crowds, and very many were converted, and some 
remain in the Society to this day and are our most useful 
members. So great was the excitement that a young gentleman 
in the town brought several of his companions to see the fun 
and make as much sport out of it as he could. But the Spirit 


of God arrested him, and he remained to pray, and afterwards 
became a faithful servant of Christ. Among the scoffers was 
an infidel from London ; but he was converted, and about a 
year afterwards he died in the full assurance of faith. 

'These successes almost emptied the public-houses, and so 
enraged the publicans that some lewd fellows of the baser sort 
burnt Mr. Marsden's effigy, together with that of a lady who 
had given him great assistance in the work ; and whilst these 
two vile caricatures of God's servants were burning, the drunken 
mob sang the "Hallelujah Chorus." 

' Still the work of the Lord prospered, and many of his 
spiritual children are alive to this day.' 



It was always a pleasure to Mr. Marsden to give hints and 
helps to young preachers at the beginning of their career. 
Many of his old letters testify to the interest he took in pre- 
paring his spiritual children for activity and usefulness. They 
abound with witty ancl wise counsel gleaned from his wide 
and varied experience. I will therefore introduce him to my 
readers as a fatherly adviser and counsellor, q,nd- allow him to 
state his opinions in his own words. 

' 1 6, Priory P^a ce j Doncaster, October 2, 1878. 

' Dear Arthur, — The little book I have sent you is of great 
value to young men who wish to be well grounded in the 
Truth, and to be useful. Read \t over and over again, and 
make its truths the food of your memory. You might read 
ten great books, and not be so well instructed as this little 
book will instruct you. I wrote down, all the doctrines and 
the Scripture proofs, and used it to prepare for my own exami- 
nation as a local preacher. If you work at it for twelve 
months, it will be a good beginning. I do not mean you 
should read nothing else, but by reading a page every day 
and getting the doctrines into your memory you will be ready 
for the questions that may be put to you. 

'It will help you in your sermons, but you must choose 
suitable subjects, such as repentance, faith, and justification. 
Now don't weary in this 'way. Work at these truths, and 
read and write for seven years, and you will become a master. 
Be not too eager to run at first, but do a little every day. 


Divide your Bible into three parts, and begin your systematic 
reading at Genesis, Proverbs, and Matthew ; and as it interests 
you, mark the passage, and write from what interests you. 
When you have filled your Bible with marks, it will be worth 
twenty times more to you than ever. 

' "When you hear a sermon, by all means take notice of it ; 
and if it is a good one, write it down, and improve upon it. 
"Work up new sermons out of old ones. Do your best. Lose 
no time. Eemember that if you lose ten minutes in a day, 
you are wasting 3650 golden minutes in a year. If you write 
a page a day, it will be 365 pages in a year. I have done much 
more than that on an average for forty-four years. When 
you preach, be in earnest, and make a good application. Then 
at the close come down and begin a prayer-meeting. Give out 
a verse or two, and pray in right good earnest, and always to 
the point. Have a penitent form out, and invite the friends 
to help you. Have no silly shame about you — be above it. 
It may do for a girl of eighteen years of age. Pray much. 
Pray in private four times a day. Now, my dear friend, be 
"out and out," until people say you are mad. May God bless 
you every way ! — Believe me yours truly, 

'I. Marsden.' 

'Doncaster, August 11, 1879. 

' My dear Friend, — Whatever are you up to ? I hear not 
a word from you. Are you walking, or running, or flying? 
The Conference have been reducing the number of candidates 
from the district meetings, and there are scores who will not 
be accepted. You must spare neither labour nor pains to be 
useful at home, and your way will open out somewhere or 
somehow. Go straight to work at the task that lies nearest 
your hand. That is how I began. A minister asked me if 
I had any thoughts about going into the ministry, but I gave 
him no encouragement but practical work. Many were saved 
in our circuit, and some of the fruit is remaining to this day. 
Then other circuits opened out to me afterwards. It was not 
all smooth sailing ; for I met with opposition here and there, 
sometimes by great men, and sometimes by little men. But 


I still kept going on, and sticking to my work. If a person 
shut up my way here, another was opened there. 

'Never think of leaving your duty because of opposition, 
but be all the more determined to keep fighting your way. 
Never die half-hearted or cold-hearted; and when you are 
knocked down, get up and go at it again and again. Aim at 
success, and take with you Jesus, and He will help you. The 
preacher that offends no one is not a successful man. A man 
that is in earnest and in the thick of the combat, resolved on 
victory, has little or no time to measure his steps to an inch. 
A man that preaches nice, pretty, flowery, showy sermons need 
take no fire-arms with him. You go out with your fire-arms 
and the power of the Holy Ghost, and you will conquer. 

' The Lord never intended me for a travelling preacher. I 
have been more successful in my own way perhaps by a hun- 
dred times than if I had been one. I have many travelling 
preachers and missionaries now out in the work. 

' Work away. Be in earnest : watch and pray, and look to 
heaven for help. May God bless you. — Yours truly, 

' I. Marsden.' 

' Doncaster 3 August 20, 1879. 

' My dear Friend, — I do not know whether you have been 
examined for the Plan or not. You were on trial, and I 
should like to see a Plan, I would like you to preach next 
Plan double appointments, and be out at least every other 
Sunday, so as to make you preach about thirteen times in a 
quarter. It is a sad affair when preachers just come and 
preach a fine butterfly sermon, and then fly away like a 

' The work of " preaching " is the most sacred calling in the 
universe. Jesus Christ Himself was a preacher. Did He 
employ His disciples to go out repeating nice discourses ? They 
were sent to cast out devils, and preach the Gospel, and they 
did as they were told. This is the true genius of Pentecost, 
and its symbol was the tongue of fire. This tongue of fire is the 
weapon of conquest, and its glory is that it is the message of 


' Those preachers who say they " do not believe in excitement 
and great revivals " proclaim their unbelief in Christianity and 
their ignorance of the work of God. What would such a 
preacher do if his neighbour's property were on fire, and the 
family in danger of perishing in the flames ? If he could go 
and preach to the sleeping inmates of the burning dwelling 
without being excited, it would serve him right to throw the 
burning embers upon him and burn his folly out of him. 
There are four great objects in the Bible that are enough to 
excite the universe : sin — hell — heaven — and redemption. They 
do excite heaven, and hell, and the Lamb on the throne. 
Methodism began with freedom on earth, salvation in heaven, 
or perdition in hell ; and unless we follow in the wake of our 
fathers, we are traitors to our country, our consciences, our 
God, and to the) Gospel which is intrusted to our keeping. 
" Though I preach the Gospel, I have nothing to glory of : for 
necessity is laid upon me ; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not 
the Gospel" (1 Cor. ix. 16). 

'Lukewarm professors in many cases help on the works of 
darkness. Go you straight to your work, and dip your sword 
in the fire. Go work and fight. A regular good battle will 
do you good, and opposition will strengthen you. — Your very 
affectionate friend, I. Marsden.' 

'Hexham, February 12, 1867. 

' My very dear Brother, — I rejoice that you have been able 
to take your stand on the most elevated and sacred spot in the 
universe — the pulpit. May you live long to occupy it with 
great power and success ! Glory to the Lamb for the victory 
given you over Satan in " pulling sinners out of the fire ! " Pull 
them out by dozens and by scores. The enemy has had his 
share a thousand years ago. 

' The work is glorious here, and Satan is in a terrific fury. 
Koman Catholics and all sorts come, and the chapel on Sunday 
was crowded. ( ) how Satan raged in the very sanctuary ! Yet 
God gave us the victory. The town is in a tempest, and the 
spray flies every way. The excitement is deep as hell and high 
as heaven, and God's hosts come from every quarter to our help. 


'The Sovereign of the Universe has declared war against 
"universal wrong, mischief, ignorance, wretchedness, and sin in 
all its forms. if the Church would at once fall in with this 
proclamation, and all its commanders, officers, and rank and 
file go forth to battle, we should hear of wars, conquests, 
revolutions, and triumphs far and wide. It is possible, and it 
ought to be done. for a Pentecost again ! May you be a 
faithful and successful preacher ! 

' About six weeks ago I was at Staith, a place on a very 
rocky and dangerous part of the coast, and there I learned a 
lesson for the Church and for myself. A Swedish vessel 
bound for Newcastle was wrecked upon this rocky coast, and 
hundreds of villagers ran to the rescue. Eockets were fired, 
the vessel was crossed by the ropes, the lifeboat was sent out, 
and nine lives were saved. There was no time for trifling or 
arguing ; the people were terribly in earnest till the last man 
was rescued ; and as soon as they heard that all were saved, 
they joined in a grand shout of joy. What a lesson for 
preachers to fire their rockets across the human wrecks, and 
save those who are ready to perish ! 

' Among my latest converts is an old 6ea-captain who spent 
forty years on the sea, and now he has cast anchor within the 
veil and got saved. The captain is all alive, and is continually 
praising God and making His mercies known to his friends. 

1 May God bless you abundantly and make you very useful ! 
— Yours affectionately, I. Marsden.' 

' My dear Sir, — It may be difficult for me to give you advice 
as to your future programme. I have felt what you feel when 
I was young in experience and wanted to extend my sphere of 
usefulness; but I was bound by Providence within ordinary 
bounds. I thought, if ever at liberty under certain circum- 
stances, I would then take wings. I see now Providence was 
wiser in this respect, and I stuck to business, for I had great 
responsibilities hanging upon me. But the Lord owned my 
labours wherever I went in our circuit, and as circumstances 
opened out into other circuits I followed on. 

' Then I gave myself to hard and persevering study, pre- 


paring my head with information from various sources, scarcely 
letting five minutes pass away uselessly. I had always a book 
in my hand. I seldom went a journey on business but I read 
if weather permitted. I have gone thousands of miles riding, 
reading, and driving. 

' I knew a young man, a draper, in circumstances like yours, 
who felt he should like to be off into the work. He went out 
as a hired local preacher, while his wife kept the shop. He 
prepared for examination to go out into the ministry, but did 
not pass the district meeting. My advice to him was, " Keep 
to your business, and make the best of yourself." He lived to 
repent that he did not take my advice. 

' Xow I would say to you, so far as I can see, Make the 
very best of your business. Make every penny into a pound, 
and prepare your head and heart for every useful purpose. 
Stick to your business ; for there is as much religion in busi- 
ness as in a class-meeting. I never felt happier than when 
I was employed fully in business. Business is a school — at 
least I found it so. " Hold the fort ; " be " diligent in business, 
fervent in spirit, serving the Lord." Be useful and follow 
the openings of Providence. 

' May God bless you. — Yours affectionately, 

' I. Marsden.' 

* My dear Brother, — I hope your head is above your 
shoulders; and your heart a thousand degrees above being 
"just warm;" and your tongue on fire when it is wanted in its 
highest and holiest exercises ; and your body well, and able 
to sustain all your engagements in life. Then you will keep 
having good times, and shouting, " Hallelujah. Praise the 
Lord for ever and ever ! Amen." 

' Let us ever keep to the Strong for strength — the all-cleansing 
blood — this or nothing : this and everything. This will 
conquer a thousand hells. Without this, the shadow of the 
devil will conquer us. The devil wants me every day, but 
through Christ I say, "No, the devil shall not have me one 
day." Then in his rage he will either nip, or scratch, or bite, 
or worry at me, or he will throw dust at me as black as soot. 


1 Satan shall not have all his own way. No ! Jesus conquers 
all. Hallelujaji. — Believe me yours affectionately, 

' I. Marsden.' 

1 My dear Brother, — You cannot serve God and mammon. 
If you will preach the Gospel with all plainness and simplicity, 
the world and false professors will be up in arms against you. 
They say you are "too noisy," "too demonstrative," "beside 
yourself," and "crazed." 

' Let us keep up the old-fashioned revivals, and get sinners 
to confess Christ publicly. A man is no real penitent unless 
he is willing before the congregation to go over to Christ. We 
have all been public sinners and not ashamed of it ; but when 
the devil sees that one of his subjects is wanting to leave him, 
he comes as an angel of light and says : "Don't expose your- 
self j do it snugly and nicely ; though you have been bold for 
me, yet you must not be bold for Christ." The woman that 
touched the hem of Christ's garment came modestly behind Him 
and sought to get a blessing secretly, but He exposed her faith. 
It was not to be hid. 

' For this the world will call us " mad." There is not only 
a "mad zeal "in serving Christ and in carrying men out of 
themselves, but there is a worse kind of madness — lukewarmness, 
supineness, and disbelief. Many read that Christ was born 
in a stable and laid in a manger, but they never go to see Him. 
If they could read that He was born in a palace, there would 
be cheap trips to the place, and the rich would go and offer 
their gifts. But Christianity remains unaltered. It never 
adapts itself to foolish notions or false theories. 

' Let us keep to the old-fashioned Gospel. Good-bye. God 
bless you. — Yours affectionately, I. Marsden.' 

' Doncaster, January 24, 1857. 

( My dear Sir, — The Lord has begun a good work among 
your people ; may it be carried on for ever ! But if the work 
is to prosper, it must have your co-operation and help. 

' 1. The leaders must set a good example. See Paul's example, 
1 Thess. ii. 10, and reflect that you are to be an example in 


your life and character. You are a professed Wesleyan class- 
leader. As a leader, your duty is to call over the names of 
your members every week, and contribute according to your 
means, and call upon others to do so. If you refuse to obey 
this rule, you have no right to be a leader, and the sooner you 
leave the better. 

'2. If you refuse to contribute or co-operate in a wrong 
temper and spirit, you give the people a proof that you are no 

1 3. If you are a Christian and wish to remain a Wesleyan 
Methodist, reproof will be as excellent oil upon your head, and 
you will say : " Teach me the good and right way, and I will 
walk in it." 

' 4. It is no new thing to call the names of members over ; 
Mr. Wesley established it himself. 

' 5. I hope you will take advice, and do that which you are 
morally bound to do, or leave the Society. Just one word of 
warning. This is God's cavse ; an$ if you do anything in 
spirit or conduct that will injure this work, God will see 
to it ; and you may fall into His hands in a moment when 
you are not aware of it, and have to weep bitterly for your 

' Good - bye. God bless you. — Believe me yours am c- 
tionately, I. Marsden.' 

'Doncaster, April 25, 1S56. 

' My dear Brother in Christ, — You have now become a 
policeman of Jesus Christ, and His service is the noblest and 
highest duty on earth. Your enemy — the great adversary of 
God and man — will now give you the meeting. Because you 
are the Lord's servant, you are his great enemy, and he will 
attack you. 

' Be watchful about little things. A thief will not send you 
word when he is coming to rob your house, and he may not 
thunder at your doors to break them down, but he will come 
in stealthily at some unfastened window, or weak, unguarded 
place. Thousands of Christians have been robbed and plundered 
and murdered by neglecting little things. When Gulliver went 



to the land of little folks, they trembled when they saw him 
awake and moving; for they said, "He is a giant." But 
unfortunately for Gulliver, he fell asleep, and the satirist says 
that the little folks tied every hair of his head to so many 
separate wooden pins driven into the ground, so that when he 
awoke he was at their mercy. So the little things in life have 
bound many a strong man and prepared him as a victim for 
the great destroyer. There is no safety with sin. Omission 
of duty will lead to the commission of sin. A nettle root 
won't sting you, but a nettle will. Plant the root, and the 
nettle will grow. Omit a duty — sleep a moment, and the 
enemy will plant the root of a bad principle which will grow 
and reproduce itself till it fills your heart and stings you with 
eternal remorse. " Be not deceived : God is not mocked : 
whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." 

'Now take a few words of advice, and if you diligently 
attend to them, you will not fail to secure a place before the 
throne of God. 

' i. Wisely consider and diligently employ proper means 
for the establishment of your Christian character. 

' 2. Let your standard of conduct and your aims in life be 
elevated and commanding. 

'3. Arm yourself with firmness and abiding resolution, 
setting your face as a flint onwards. 

* 4. Let your intercourse be with those of established virtue 
and intelligence. 

' 5. Should you decide to marry, choose a partner for life who 
has first chosen Christ. Moral excellence is to be sought first. 
God and angels respect it. " Favour is deceitful, and beauty 
is vain : but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be 

' 6. Forget not your dependence on God, and do not shirk 
your own responsibility. 

' If these remarks contribute in the least to your spiritual 
prosperity and happiness, I shall be well rewarded, and a 
letter from you at some future period would give the humble 
writer no little satisfaction. — Yours truly, 

'I. Marsden.' 


' 16, Priory Place, Doncaster, May n, 1880. 

1 My dear Brother, — May all the blessings of the Gospel 
of Jesus Christ be yours for ever and ever ! Amen and amen. 

' Shall we live while we live ? Or shall we die while we 
live ? Which shall it be ? 

'I once read of dead men manning a ship, dead men pulling 
the ropes, dead men steering, dead men spreading the sails. 
What an influence it had upon me ! I thought of dead men 
in the pulpit, dead men on the Plan, dead men leading the 
classes, dead men teaching the Sunday-school, dead men con- 
ducting family prayer, and alas ! dead men by hundreds hearing 
the word and yet acting as if alive. 

' Shall we then be counted among the dead men 1 O no; 
we must be counted among the living — among the higher-life 
men. A man of real life will look alive and speak a living 
language. His prayers will have fire enshrined in them, and 
will have wings of fire, which will rise to heaven and return 
with answers before he rises from his knees. But the wings 
of a dead man's prayers are of ice, which will freeze him fast 
under the wings of death. 

' In all our duties we must be living men ; overcoming diffi- 
culties and impossibilities ; and not saying, " I cannot," " I 
would rather not," " I am unworthy." If opportunities present 
themselves for doing good, let us make no excuse, but haste to 
the work and do it. Try, Try, and it shall be done. 

' There is always a present reward for the thing done. The 
power is multiplied for the next effort, and then again for the 
next effort. It is first units, then tens, then hundreds, then 
thousands, and on — on to millions. Never, no, never say you 
cannot, when God speaks by His providence. A great man 
once said : "If God bids me make a world, I will try." Have 
faith in God Almighty. Preach as you never did. Go into 
the pulpit in Christ's name. Tell them your errand in the 
name of God without any faltering whatever. Bo plain: fear 
not to warn, and to alarm, and by the terrors of the Lord to 
persuade men. Tell them of a Saviour. Go into the depths of 
the sea and behold a monster fis.h called a shark, but keep out 


of its mouth, and ask counsel of it how to catch men, or go 
to Christ for a^net. They are wise that win souls. Be deter- 
mined on this great work. Go to Christ for a Pentecost of 

' Take care, wherever you are entertained on the Sabbath, 
that you never leave the house without prayer. I never do, 
and I have no recollection that I ever did. I generally pray 
twice with them. I am sorry so many local preachers neglect 
that duty. 

'After preaching, have a prayer-meeting. Do not ask any 
one if you shall have a prayer-meeting ; the service is yours. 
Go to work manfully and in right good earnest. There may be 
some old conceited members who will say you are forward, and 
the people don't like it. Never mind such slow coaches ; ride 
over them if they will not stand out of the way. Go to work 
right heartily, and after a while you will grow right into it. 

' In prayer, put yourself in a right position. Let your head 
be up. Never, no, never kneel in that low-lived way with 
your head down upon your hands or on the rails. Kneel as if 
you had heaven and hell in front of you. Be ready to pray 
half a dozen times, if need be, and keep them alive by short 
singing and short prayers. Have your penitent form out, or 
get the sinners to the communion rail. If you say, " I cannot," 
you will lose power. Go to work and do it. Make yourself 
do it. I observed that a great number of your professing men 
are women. How is it ? But be you a man, and play the man. 
And if you fall down in the exercise of duty, be like a clever 
boy — get up again. Now take my advice. Give my kindest 
regards to your good wife, and a kiss to the little cherry. — 
Yours truly, I. Marsden.' 

'Doncaster, May 29, 1876. 

'My dear Girl, — And so you are going to have a new 
Wesleyan chapel. I hope it will not be a silly, fashionable 
one ; but beautiful, and plain, and useful ; with a good pulpit 
platform, and communion all round. A church architect does 
not, or will not, understand useful, soul-converting Methodist 
chapels. Our chapels should be easy to speak in, without a 


ringing noise, and the seats should be so nicely arranged that 
the whole congregation can be seen at once, and so that the 
preacher can see the colour of every face, and notice every 
blush and every falling tear. If an architect cannot build a 
chapel of the sort, I would send him home. He does not 
know how to build chapels for the Lord Jesus Christ. 

'Always keep full of work for Christ, and then you will 
not have much trouble with unbelief. Unbelief is the blue 
mould that grows on idle and lazy souls. Keep with duty, 
always working with Christ ; and then Jesus will take care 
that His bride walks with Him "in white." Never belong to 
those who say, "I cannot," "I am unworthy," "I had rather 
not ; " but up and at it. Let it be always a settled thing in 
your own mind that you are unworthy, but don't talk about 
it. Talking much about it is either canting pride or canting 
hypocrisy. Be a noble soul. You are unworthy, but your Jesus 
is worthy — and worthy of you. You are weak, but He is strong. 
Let Him be your Alpha and Omega — your all in all. 

' AVork any way for Christ. If you take up a straw or a 
pin for Him, He will remember it, and tell you about it at 
another time before an assembled world. I am glad that you 
are stepping higher in your school, and that you have charge 
of a boys' class. Girls by always shunning masculine duties 
become too feminine, till they have not a drop of manly blood 
in their veins, and become weak and finical. A truly Christian 
and intelligent female will be a true woman ; and if she has a 
dash of the masculine in her, she may become a noble character. 
I am glad you are growing in grace, and making yourself useful. 
Have faith in Christ's blood ; have faith in the Holy Spirit ; 
have faith in God Almighty, and you will conquer everything 
between hell and heaven. Pray for me. — Believe me your affec- 
tionate friend, I. Marsden.' 

' My dear Brother, — I am glad you remember the children 
when you are preaching, and seek their salvation. A small but 
beautiful present is before me — a silver pencil-case — from the 
elder boys and girls in a Sunday-school in the Howden Circuit, 
who are united and under the guidance of a Christian lady who 


is their leader. I think the majority of the class will be girls. 
A considerable *mmber of young people were saved, and I 
should think that scores of them are praying for me every day : 
" Lord, bless Mr. Marsden." I have hundreds of children up 
and down the country praying for me. I have met with cases 
where I have been prayed for ten or fifteen years ; and even 
when they became men and women, they still continued to 
pray for me. And others on their death-bed have prayed, 
" Lord, bless Mr. Marsden." 

' I am privileged above many by having the prayers of so 
many people. It is the fruit of a tree I planted upwards of 
forty years ago in taking notice of little folks. Many are now 
ministers, abroad and at home ; and others are in high social 
positions and well-to-do for both worlds, who took my advice 
when they were little children. 

' Many of my friends have laughed and made sport, and said 
queer things at my way of going down to the low and little 
folks, but it has been a great success. My tree has grown 
towards heaven, and its branches are spread over the nations 
among my spiritual children in Australia, America, and other 
places. May God bless you. Pray for me. — Yours affection- 
atelv, I. Marsden.' 

' 1 6, Priory Place, Doncaster, December 31, 1878. 

'My dear Brother, — May all[the blessings of the Gospel of 
Jesus Christ be your portion for the new year 1879. I hope 
you and your good wife and family are well. I am well, praise 
God for ever and ever. Amen. 

' I have had upwards of a thousand miles' mission since 
October, and the Lord has saved some hundreds. Near 
Huddersfield in four days we gathered about one hundred 
and fifty. They slid down from the gallery like an avalanche 
from a mountain, filled the communion within and without, 
and vestry and other places. I seldom, if ever, saw such a 
wholesale giving way at once. And in South Wales and in 
Somersetshire I felt the almighty power of the Atonement. 
how I have felt the glory of God ! Every night — Saturday 
too — and about three hours each night, and three times on 


Sunday. I have had fifteen services a week for many weeks 
together. If this is not the way to get fat on good tilings, 
there is not another way in the world. how my appetite 
was sharpened ! 

' I say, my brother, it won't do to be content with giving 
first-rate sermons without being endowed with power from on 
high. The world will give its applause and hurrahs, and 
foolish preachers may be pleased with the honour ; but it will 
go out like a falling star. Do you pray for me ? I have a 
special corner in my heart for you. — Believe me yours very 
affectionately, I. Marsden.' 

' Alford, Lincolnshire, November 20, 1880. 

' I came here a week ago, and shall leave on Wednesday 
morning for Doncaster. The Lord is saving sinners. I have 
seen some thousands brought to Christ since I saw you. Since 
last September many in Cheshire, Leicestershire, Yorkshire, 
Durham, and Lincolnshire have been converted. 

' The Lord gives me wonderful strength of endurance. I 
think I feel as well and as strong as I have done for the past 
thirty years, and my voice has renewed its youth — yea, it is 
better now than it was forty years ago. I mean to sing 
" Hallelujah " for ever and ever. Amen. 

' O how precious I feel Jesus Christ to my soul ! I feel the 
cleansing blood every day. There is a great deal of talk about, 
" What is to be done to raise Methodism ? " My answer is : 
Only one thing for the pulpit and the pew. Not a splendid 
ritual, nor splendid chapels, nor splendid sermons, nor splendid 
concerts, nor splendid lectures, nor bazaars. The J'ci/fr'rnst is 
that one thing for pulpit and pew. All other things without 
this are splendid sins, and splendid professions, and splendid 

' A person said on the Thanksgiving platform that we " were 
dying of respectability." That statement was very good — just 
to the point.' 



During the latter part of the year 1881 Mr. Marsden's labours 
began to tell heavily upon him, and he showed signs of failing 
health. In preaching out of doors he would take cold, be laid 
up for several days, and before he recovered fully he would 
take cold again. 

At his age, too, the long hours of excitement and hard toil, 
often perspiring profusely till ten o'clock in a crowded chapel, 
seriously affected his health. Sometimes he would be enter- 
tained by a friend at some distance from the chapel, and, in 
country places where cabs were not to be had, he walked home 
in the rain or snow, and thus caught cold again. 

Sometimes, too, he lost his appetite entirely, and for days 
would eat nothing. If he had been at home and carefully 
nursed, there would have been some hope of his recovery. 
But he was often among strangers, who knew nothing of his 
peculiarities, and who had no idea how seriously his health 
was failing. 

When he wrote home, his heart was so full of God's work 
that he seldom referred to his own needs. Those who read his 
letters very carefully' would find perhaps one sentence that 
clearly indicated the mischief that was at work on his consti- 
tution. But if they were not thoughtful readers, they would 
imagine that all was well with him. 

The following letter contains one such sentence : I have taken 
the liberty of underlining it. 

' Boroughbeidge, Yokk, Thursday, November 3, 1881. 

' My dear Brother, — I came here on Saturday. The Lord 
is with us mightily, saving sinners. I leave to-morrow for 


Doncaster : then I have to preach, for they are having revival 
services. Then I am off to Barton-on-Humber, and after that 
I am engaged till Christmas. 

' About a month ago I went into Lincolnshire to one of the 
worst places. The Society was torn to pieces, and all very low. 
I wondered, before I went, why they had invited me. They 
told me the secret when I had done my work. what a place ! 
and what a state the Society was in ! The great man of the 
place, a farmer, was the cause of all the trouble, I suppose. 
He never came near the services, though he was superintendent 
of the Sunday-school, and some of his friends kept away. Yet 
I knew nothing of all this. I felt it hard lifting, and yet I 
felt power in the lift, and power in my arm, and power in my 
tongue. The work was too great and the power too great for 
Satan. We got hold of the people, and we filled the chapel. 
But my labour was so severe, and the distance to the house wJtere 
I stayed was so great, and the weather so severe, that I was dove 
up completely. It has affected me ever since. I was doubly 
exhausted, but it was a triumph over evil. 

'I told them I wondered at them sending for me. The 
leaders and preachers had taken counsel together, and agreed 
that the Doncaster man would be the man for them. So one 
learns by the way that some things can be done by one man 
that cannot be done by another. God has different workmen, 
some to pull down the old world, and others to take the ruins 
and build up the new -world. Hallelujah for ever and ever ! 
Amen.— Yours truly, I. Mausdkn. 

v~ » 

Still.he struggled bravely on in spite of old age and infirmity 
and exhausting toil. He would keep his engagements as long 
as he was able. 

The Rev. J. I. Britten spoke to him, and advised him to 
abandon his engagements in other circuits, and preach only 
occasionally in his own. He promised to take his advice, and 
shortly afterwards, feeling his weakness and utter prostration, 
lie said : ' It is all over, my work is done.' 

The Rev. John Smith had some conversation with him about 
this time, in the course of which he said : 'T have been instru- 


mental in the salvation of hundreds, if not thousands, of souls, 
and I am thankful to God for it ; but if that were my only- 
hope of salvation, I should be damned. My hope of salvation 
depends on two things : — Jesus died for me — and I believe it.' 

His brother, Mr. Joseph Marsden, had some conversation 
with him about his work. Mr. Joseph Marsden had been a 
local preacher many years, and he said to his brother : ' Don't 
you think that if you were to restrain yourself, and use milder 
expressions and less demonstrative methods, you would be 
more useful and acceptable.' His reply was : ' I would rather 
be Isaac Marsden with all his faults and all the souls the Lord 
has given him, than be some preachers who have never a soul 
to their ministry. I have worked hard. I am going to heaven, 
but not for what I have done. I am going empty-handed, 
trusting in the Atonement.' 

For some time his friends hoped that he would rally again. 
His vigorous constitution and uniform good health led them 
to expect a longer lease of life. But there came symptoms of 
an obstruction of the intestinal canal, with nausea, vomiting, 
and sleeplessness. Various remedies were tried to remove the 
obstruction, but they were unavailing. 

Writing on December 24th, 1881, he says : 

' I gradually get worse and worse, and now I am very poorly. 
I have two to look after me — one a doctor, and the other more 
than a doctor — my beloved wife. O what nights of sickness 
and vomiting, and no rest nor desire for food ! I am in such 
a state I shall have to give up some of my engagements — 
many, unless I improve. 

* I am in the Lord's hands, and they are safe and right — 
infinitely right. Should a man complain who has had health 
nearly seventy-five years 1 No, no complaining after so much 
good health for such a length of time. 

' what a wicked thing to have given to the devil my 
younger part of it ! But God is merciful, and on that mercy 
I stand.' 

From this time he slowly but surely lost strength and 
gradually wasted away. He was unable to take food, and had 


no desire for it. His medical advisers tried all their arts and 
exhausted all their resources ; but finding they could not save 
his life, they candidly told him so. 

He accepted their verdict with perfect composure. He lav 
like a lamb. The strong man, whose turbulent spirit and iron 
will had carried all opposition before him, now lay as placid 
as a lake on a summer's day. He uttered no murmur. He 
breathed no complaint. He was not anxious to die, but per- 
fectly submissive. 

As long as he was able to read, he eagerly scanned the 
religious papers for tidings of the success of evangelistic work. 
The last paper he read was the War Cry — the organ of the 
Salvation Army. 

When he was too feeble to read, he spent his time in prayer. 
Then he became so weak that he could scarcely speak, and 
finally he fell into a stupor and gently breathed his last about 
two o'clock on Tuesday morning, January 17th, 1882, in the 
seventy-fifth year of his age. 

He was interred at the Doncaster cemetery on Friday morn- 
ing, January 20th. 

The first part of the service took place in the Priory Place 
Chapel, the scene of his conversion, which was crowded to 
excess by his friends and admirers. The Kev M. Westcombe 
read the Psalms, and the Eev. J. C. W Gostick the Lesson. 
The choir sang the anthem : ' What are these arrayed in white 
robes 1 ' 

The Kev. J. I. Britten, the superintendent minister, then 
gave the following address : 

' We have met this morning to pay the last mark of respect 
to our late brother. His remains lie before us, and we re- 
member and respect even these as a grand shell which encased 
a noble kernel. That form, now prostrate and lifeless, has 
stood erect in its manliness in this pulpit, and in how many 
others all over the land I know not. Isaac Marsden was born 
in the village of Skelmanthorpe, near Huddersfield, in June, 
1807. The very stern discipline of the father was relieved and 
assuaged somewhat by the gentleness and piety of the mother. 
The religious decision of Brother Marsden is to be traced 


chiefly to the prayers of his mother. As a boy, he was the 
subject of deep, religious impressions, and had there been any 
one then to take him by the hand, as he told me during his 
illness, he would have been saved a terrible struggle and a 
reckless course. Perhaps it was a mistake, one often made by 
lads, that he did not make a confidant of his mother. Those 
boyish impressions were not consolidated, and he became a 
wild youth. He was the life of every party. He was the 
ringleader in every reckless frolic and village rout. He had 
no education, but was passionately fond of reading. He had 
next to no schooling, but he had a strong mind, and as strong 
a will. Read he would, read he did ; but Paine, Voltaire, and 
Mirabeau were his teachers, and Satan was his master. 

' So he went on from fourteen to six-and-twenty. He would 
do or dare anything. He feared neither God nor man. Soon 
after he obtained " the fear of God," but never had the fear 
of man. He is now a man, full-grown, manly, independent ; 
strong frame, strong will ; full of infidel teaching ; fearless, 
godless, and reckless. As such, a year or two after this chapel 
was opened, he enters it. There is a special service, and the 
preacher is the Rev. R. Aitken. The fire of the preacher suits 
him. The earnestness of the preacher arrests him. The appeals 
of the preacher impress him ; let us rather say, the Holy Spirit 
strikes him, and, like Saul of Tarsus, he is staggered, knows 
not what to say or what to do. He goes into the schoolroom 
with other inquirers, but, to use his own words, he " said 
nothing and felt nothing ; " but he had made up his mind to 
abandon his course of life, and he acted accordingly and imme- 
diately. He went to his rooms at the " Wellington," and told 
the landlady he was "going to turn over a new leaf." She 
said she "should believe it when she saw it." When she saw 
it, she said Isaac Marsden had " lost his senses." Soon after, 
and when in this transition state, he stood up in a love-feast 
and said simply, " It will be a bad day for the devil when 
Isaac Marsden is converted," and sat down. He went home 
and burnt his infidel books. Such decision was soon followed 
by acceptance, peace, and joy. He went to his old haunts and 
preached. He visited his old companions, and said he had 


done with them, and warned them. Three of those companions 
came to sad and untimely ends. He travelled about with his 
cart from village to village and town to town, trading and 
preaching. He came on to the Doncaster Plan, rose to the top 
as the oldest local preacher, and never brought a shadow upon 
his profession. 

'Isaac Marsden was a Boanerges. He was a Christianised 
Jupiter. Though not well educated, he was well read ; and, 
though lacking what is called culture, he was a living power. 
He was a God-sent man and a God-inspired messenger. He 
had his own work to do, kept to it, and never tried to do any- 
thing else. He was not a builder, but a demolisher ; with his 
Herculean strength and Herculean words he demolished the 
kingdom of Satan. He was a quarryman, fond of blasting, and 
gloried in bringing out the raw and rude and rough material. 
Others did the building, and polishing, and educating. " Every 
man in his own order." " There are diversities of operations, 
but it is the same Spirit." It is not the time or place to speak 
of defects. It was with Isaac Marsden as with all of us, " the 
treasure is in earthen vessels." As it is not the time to magnify 
his defects, neither would I minify his peculiarities. He often 
deplored them ; and, as time passed, moderated some views and 
mollified his expressions. But he was a grand man. Take 
him all in all, we shall not soon see his like again. He was 
Isaac Marsden — sui generis. What he was before his decision, 
he was after; the same characteristics were simply brought 
under a new impulse and thrown in a new direction. For 
nearly fifty years he worked and preached. He loved soul- 
saving work. He was never so happy as when surrounded 
Avith sobbing penitents. He retained the fire to the end ; and 
when the natural force abated, this spiritual force never 
wavered. Like the war-horse, he sniffed the battle from afar. 
Like the old hunter, prostrate, powerless, the old spirit was 
there. On his deathbed he reviewed the old scenes and 
strengthened his faith by a remembrance of the old victories. 
May the Church always have such men ; and may the Holy 
Spirit find his successor in these services we are now holding ! 
As Isaac Marsden passes away in the midst of special services, 


in the very place where he himself found Christ, so may during 
these very services some Isaac Marsden, upon whom his mantle 
shall fall, be " baptized for the dead " and given to the Church ! 

' During the last six months our brother had been failing. 
A month ago he broke down completely. "We prayed and 
hoped that he might be spared to give to the circuit the 
maturity of his experience and character and preaching, and 
to move about amongst our people. But it was the death-blow. 
"With my colleagues I often visited him. It was a pleasure 
and profit to sit by his bedside. His patience was " lamb-like." 
His resignation was complete. The strong will was merged in 
the Divine. The strong man lay still and placid as a child. 
He said one day : " I don't feel anything or think anything of 
Isaac Marsden, it is all Christ ! " On another occasion he said 
to me : " I have been looking back and reviewing seventy years, 
but I see nothing but the Atonement/ — the Atonement at 
every turn ! " He got weaker and weaker, and then could 
scarcely speak. 

' The day he died I saw him, and a few hours before his 
decease. For a time he seemed gone, his eyes were closed, and 
there was no response, I said to Mrs. Marsden : " I should 
like him to recognise me once more ; you speak to him." She 
said : " My dear, Mr. Britten is come to see and pray with you 
once more." He paused, and then feebly said : " Bless him ! " 
Taking advantage of the momentary consciousness, I bent down 
and said: "Brother Marsden, is Christ precious?" The lips 
moVed, a smile gleamed, and he replied, with marked emphasis : 
" Very ! " Again the mind was gone, and he was in a stupor. 
He died peacefully, painlessly, on Tuesday morning, January 
17 th, at two o'clock, in the seventy-fifth year of his age. 

'He had occupied nearly all the positions of trust and 
honour his Church could give him. He was a steward, ex- 
circuit steward, local preacher, leader, and trustee. He was 
one of the few old trustees of this chapel. One of the last 
meetings he attended was for this chapel renovation, in which 
he took a lively interest. One of the last services he attended 
was on December 1st, the reopening of the chapel, when he 
met the President and Mr. Garrett, and said what a grand day 



he had had ; and in the evening he attended the public meet- 
ing, and spoke briefly. The last contribution he gave was 
an additional one for the additional expense incurred by the 
renovation. He was a true Wesleyan, and a firm, constant, 
intelligent supporter of the various funds. He was liberal and 
generous ; tender-hearted and true. He was aided in his hos- 
pitality by his present widow, and the house was always open 
to a good man, and especially a preacher. 

' And now we go from the house of God to the grave ; we 
follow not^him, but his remains; he is with the "innumerable 
company." It only remains for us to seek more of that devoted- 
ness he had. And now, in the presence of his lifeless form, 
and perhaps in the presence of his hovering spirit, if there is 
one not fully decided, may this hour of burial be the moment 
of resurrection of such soul from the death of sin to the life of 
righteousness — the best service we could have for the deceased, 
and the most fitting memorial to his memory ! May God grant 
it ! Amen ! ' 

The 50th hymn was then sung, and prayer offered by the 
Rev. J. Smith. 

Some thousands of people followed to the grave and lined 
the streets en route. The service at the grave was read by the 
superintendent, and a most appropriate address to the people 
was given by the Rev. J. Felvus. The circuit stewards, the 
society stewards, the trustees, the local preachers and leaders 
followed in procession. "We all turned from the grave feeling 
we had lost a most valuable worker, and that we must each 
work more devotedly, that there may be no lack. 

Now that the grave has closed over our sainted brother, and 
time has given us a more distant view of him, we can see his 
parts in their true proportion and form a better estimate of his 
character and worth. 

He was not the wild, reckless enthusiast that he was often 
painted. His opinions on social, political, and religious 
questions were always pronounced and advanced, but never 
wild or extreme. His plans and schemes were never Utopian 
and impracticable. He never asked others to do what he was 
not prepared to do himself, and he never suggested a scheme 


that lie was not prepared to carry to a successful issue. Making 
allowance for «, red-hot shot or two poured into the camp of 
the enemy under exceptional circumstances, his speeches and 
opinions were singularly mild and moderate for a man of his 
character and temperament. 

Eeligion with him was not a mere 'craze.' We all of us 
reckon among our acquaintances ' men of one idea ' who have 
some particular hobby that they almost ride to death. In 
conversation and in our social pleasures we often find them 
terrible bores. No matter where the conversation begins, we 
always know where it is sure to end ; and in their haste to 
mount their favourite hobbies they often step from the sublime 
to the ridiculous. These political and social and religious 
enthusiasts are day-dreamers whose schemes are Utopian and 
impracticable. And they go down to their graves disappointed, 
because they attempted what every moderate thoughtful man 
knew they had never any reasonable prospect of securing. 
Isaac Marsden was not an idle day-dreamer, formulating 
theories, and preparing plans, that could never be of the 
slightest use to the world. It is true he was often called 
' mad ' and pronounced ' crazy ; ' but men said of his Master, 
' He hath a devil, and is mad.' So he counted it a great 
honour to be as his Master — reviled and persecuted and hated 
of men for the sake of the Gospel. 

The strength of his character was his terrible earnestness. 
His iron will said : ' I will save men ; ' and men and devils 
might put what barriers in his way they could or would, but 
nothing would divert him from his purpose. All his nets were 
made for catching men. All his lectures and speeches, on 
temperance, education, political and social questions, were so 
many spokes in a wheel whose centre was the cross of Christ. 
All the books he read, and all the subjects he studied, supplied 
him with powder and shot for winging and wounding impenitent 
sinners. He did not care how hard he hit them, or how terribly 
he frightened them, or how grievously he offended them, if only 
what he said stuck to them. And then he felt that they would 
be sure to come back again in tears of penitence, seeking mercy. 
And then he would receive them with exquisite tenderness and 


affection, and lead them to the Saviour. In this way thousands 
of bad men have been 

Deep wounded by the Spirit's sword, 
And then by Gilead's balm restored.' 

This terrible earnestness led him to denounce worldliness 
and formality in the Church, and apathy and indifference among 
the members. It did not matter to him whether the barriers 
to spiritual life and power were found in the public-house or 
the pulpit or the pew ; with words of burning scathing power 
he would throw them down. He had not time for splitting 
hairs or making nice distinctions, and those who were smarting 
under his blows sometimes thought him unkind and unfair. 
But he answered these complaints by the retort that ' when you 
are in the midst of a life-and-death struggle, you must not be 
so careful where you set your feet as where you deliver your 

The secret of his success was his spiritual power. The Holy 
Spirit accompanied his words, and made them mighty to the 
conviction and conversion of sinners. His prayers were 
answered so fully and frequently that he seemed to pray 
without ceasing, and hold special and privileged communion 
with heaven. As I write, I am reminded of Silas Told, John 
Xelson, Gideon Ouseley, and a host of other holy men, whose 
names and lives are the rich heritage of the Church. These 
holy men had the same power with God, and like success with 
men ; and there was nothing in their lives beyond the reach 
of us. 

AVe have a glorious heritage of spiritual life and power set 
before us, and Isaac Marsden's name is now added to the 
honoured roll of our sainted dead, who have left us noble 
examples in their lives and deeds. 

Let us be ' not slothful, but followers of them who through 
faith and patience inherit the promises.' 




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Ancient Egypt : Its Monuments, Worship, and People. By 

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No Gains without Pains: a True Life for the Buys. By M. 

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Guy Sylvester's Golden Year. By James Yeames. Three 


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Polished Stones from a Rough Quarry. By Mrs. Hutcheon. 

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Bulmer's History of Moses. 
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Jesus, History of. For Children. Ey W Mason. 

Precious Seed and Little Sowers. 

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Saville (Jonathan), Memoirs of. By the Rev. F. A. West. 
Soon and Safe: a Short Life well Spent. 

Sunday Scholar's Guide (The). By the Rev. J. T. Barr. 
Will Brown ; or, Saved at the Eleventh Hour. By the Rev. H. 

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Grace the Preparation for Glory : Memoir of A. Hill. By 
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Impey (Harriet Langford). Memorial of. 

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Joseph Peters, the Negro Slave. 

Matt Stubbs' Dream: a Christmas Story. By M. G. Pearse. 

Michael Faraday. A Book for Boys. 

Ocean Child (The). Memoir of Mrs. Rooney. 

Our Lord's Public Ministry. 

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St. Paul, Life of. 

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John Bunyan. By E. M. C. 

Held Down; or, Why James didn't Prosper. By Rev. B Smith. 

The Good Sea Captain. 

PRICE TWOPENCE. Enamelled Covers. 
i. The Sun of Righteousness. 

2. The Light of the World. 

3. The Bright and Morning Star. 

4. Jesus the Saviour. 

5. Jesus the Way. 

6. Jesus the Truth. 

7. Jesus the Life. 

8. Jesus the Vine. 

9. The Plant of Renown. 

10. Jesus the Shield. 

11. Being and Doing Good. By the Rev. J. Colwell. 

12. Jessie Allen's Question. 

13. Uncle John's Christmas Story, 

14. The Pastor and the Schoolmaster. 

The above Twopenny Books are also sold in Packets. 
Packet No. 1, containing Nos. 1 to 6, Price 1/- 
P*cket No. 2. containing Nos. 7 to 12, Price »/- 



PRICE ONE PENNY. New Series. Royal i*mo. With Illustrations. 

i. The Woodman's Daughter. By Lillie M. 

2. The Young Pilgrim: the Story of Louis Jaulmes. 

3. Isaac Watkin Lewis : a Life for the Little Ones. By 

the Rev. Mark Guv Pearse. 

4. The History of a Green Silk Dress. 

5. The Dutch Orphan: Story of John Harmsen. 

6. Children Coming to Jesus. By Dr. Crook. 

7. Jesus Blessing the Children. By Dr. Crook. 

8. ' Under Her Wings.' By the Rev. T Champness. 

9. « The Scattered and Peeled Nation ' : a Word to the 

Young about the Jews. 

10. Jessie Morecambe and her Playmates. 

11. The City of Beautiful People. 


By Lillie Montfort, Ruth Elliott, and others. 

With Frontispiece. 

Imperial 32mo. 16 pages. 









The New Scholar. 
Is it beneath You? 
James Elliott ; or, the Father's 

Rosa's Christmas Invitations. 
A Woman's Ornaments. 
' Things Seen and Things not Seen.' 
Will you be the Last ? 
1 After That ? ' 
Christmas; or, the Birthday of 

The School Festival. 
John's Teachers. 
Whose Yoke do You Wear? 
The Sweet Name of Jesus. 
My Name ; or, How shall I Know ? 
Annie's Conversion. 
The Covenant Service. 
The Chat in the Meadow. 
The Wedding Garment. 
' Love Covereth all Sins.' 

Is Lucy V Sincere ? 

He Saves the Lost. 
The One Way. 
Nora Grayson's Dream. 
The Scripture Tickets. 
' Almost a Christian.' 
' Taken to Jesus.' 

27. The New Year ; or, Where shall I 

Begin ? 

28. The Book of Remembrance. 

29. ' Shall we Meet Beyond the River?' 

30. Found after Many Days. 

31. Hugh Coventry's Thanksgiving. 

32. Our Easter Hymn. 

33. ' Eva's New Year's Gift.' 

34. Noble Impulses. 

35. Old Rosie. By the Rev. Mark 

Guy Pearse. 

36. Nellie's Text Book. 

37. How Dick Fell out of the Nest. 

38. Dick's Kitten. 

39. Why Dick Fell into the River. 

40. What Dick Did with his Cake. 

41. Dick's First Theft. 

42. Dick's Revenge. 

43. Alone on the Sea. 

44. The Wonderful Lamp. 

45. Not too Young to Understand. 

46. Being a Missionary. 

47. Willie Rowland's Decision. 

48. 'Can it Mean Me?' 

49. A Little Cake. 

50. A Little Coat. 

51. A Little Cloud. 

52. The Two Brothers : Story of a Lie. 

The above Series are also sold in Packets. 

Packet No. 1 contains Nos. 1 to 24. Price 1/- 
Packet No. 2 contains Nos. 25 to 48. Price 1/-